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The Rime of the Ancient Traveller

This adventure was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2002, and reprinted in the March/April 2018 issue.


The following is mostly an adventure hook for a Classic Traveller adventure, although it could be easily adjusted to other eras. It is meant to be full of conspiracy with the PCs not even trusting each other, and would be great if additional horror elements could be worked in (what will happen if they encounter a hostile alien organism?).


The party (a group of scouts and marines seconded to two scientists) set out to investigate rumors of a functional ancients starship. Various other groups and factions also are interested in the starship; they may have inserted moles in the group or may shadow the group. The group has the Mial Narshian, a Dononsev-class Survey Scout (possibly with an upgrade to J-6) with suitable weapons.


12 PCs or NPCs as follows:
Scouts or Navy (4):
Pilot/Commander, Co-pilot/boat pilot, Engineer/Computer, Medic/Computer/Science.
Marines (5):
Leader/Sqd Leader, four troopers with various specialties.
Scientists (3):
Historian, Jump Space Theoretician/Archaeologist (“JST/A”), Weapons designer.


Two scientists (the Historian and the JST/A) who for several years have been tracking what they believe to be an ancient starship of unknown origin, operating near the frontier, have used there connections to get a crew for their second-hand Donosev-class survey scout. The Navy has also assigned a “liaison officer” and a marine squad due to the high numbers of corsairs operating in the region. The Historian and JST/A are in mission command, Scouts have ship command and Marines have combat command. Unknown to anyone else, the Naval officer has a limited Imperial warrant that grants him power over any discoveries the expedition may make. There will be several parties providing opposition, including but not limited to Pirates, intelligence agencies, military factions and MegaCorps.

Character motivations


Mainly just doing there jobs, though one or two may be doing it for the fame and fortune. Some may be resentful of this baby sitting exercise. They may also be IISS intelligence (IISS-IB) either covertly or overtly or they may have a intelligence plant.


Like all grunts through all time and space just doing what they’re told by the brass. However, one never knows what they have been told to do! They could be wet works operatives (either permanent or temporary) of an Imperial intelligence agency (IISS-IB, IIA, IM-I, IN-I). Or there could be a plant from an intelligence agency.


Wants hard evidence to prove his theory that there were many “ancient” species, and that the “ancients war” was not a civil war but a war of extermination by the Droyne. He jumped at the chance when his close friend (JST/A) told him he may have discovered an active ancient ship. So they “borrowed” one of the university’s lab vessels to try and triangulate the location of the possible ancient ship. When they had it fixed down to a sub-sector or two they decided to call in some favors.
Jump Space Theoretician/Archaeologist:
He is not very good as a JST nor an Archaeologist. But if he can prove his theory (Technically, it’s somebody else’s, but they’re dead now so what does it matter?) on how to track ships through jump space, he will be famous and get published in all the major journals. He only discovered the ancient vessel because its drive signature was so different from all the other ships. If he can find the ancient ship he will be famous and rich from the royalties the Imperium will have to pay for the ship and his theory.
“Liaison officer”/Weapons designer:
He is actually a weapons designer only sent on this mission because it is as far from civilized space as possible. So what if the accelerated tritium injectors he developed leaked a bit, they boosted power by 13%. So what if a bunch of engineering goons got radiation poisoning, it’s not his fault the Admiral’s daughter worked in engineering. However, Intelligence has given him a limited Imperial warrant in case those two mad men actually found anything.

The Ship

The ship may be nothing, a sensor error or wishful thinking. However it may also be some new drive someone has developed. Or it could be a fully functional alien ship. Certainly there have been rumors out here the last few years of some big unidentified object. But no matter what some people may not like an Imperial ship poking round in this area.


Because the mission has received some coverage by TNS, a fair number of groups are aware of the existence of the mission and its intent. The following groups believe they can exploit it for their own ends:


Other Governments