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Solstice

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2016 issue.

Synopsis:
Tensions threaten to boil over aboard a stellar mining station targeted for destruction by a religious fanatic.

Solstice is designed for 2-5 Classic Traveller characters of varied career backgrounds, who may not have worked together before the adventure; the referee can easily use this scenario to gather a new player group. No particular skills or equipment are necessary, although skills such as Vacc Suit, Mechanical, and Engineering may be valuable. Useful former careers are Belter and Scientist (Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium.)

Author’s Note:
for inclusiveness, and to preserve the egalitarian flavor of the Far Future, this adventure uses the gender-neutral pronouns xe (in place of he/she) and xir (in place of him/his or her/hers.)

Pre-Adventure Preparation

The referee should select or create the following items:

In addition, the referee should create a Heat score (see “Life Aboard Arinna” below) for use during the adventure.

Prologue: The Sun is New Each Day

None of you remembers just how you all got stuck in this system and it no longer matters. What does matter is that it takes credits to get off this world. Credits that are woefully lacking. Credits that you don’t see a way of making any time soon.

But then a lucky break: one of you spotted an open advertisement for temporary workers on the system’s stellar mining platform. You’ve heard of the place: a station devoted and equipped to drawing raw plasma from the system’s star and extracting the resulting useful elements, as well as acting as a source of power. Difficult and dangerous work, but paying enough credits to eventually buy your way out of your troubles…for now.

One cattle call, several rounds of interviews, and a 3 day shuttle flight later (during which a fellow passenger, one Vaulis Piirsin, makes a pest of xirself), you watch through the heavily polarized portholes as the platform looms closer; a thin, bright plume of stellar plasma lancing toward it from the primary 3 solar radii away. The shuttle pilot “thanks you for choosing so-and-so Spacelines, please observe all safety precautions upon disembarking” and you’re unceremoniously dumped onto a dirty, grubby installation among surly, roughneck types who look you over like lions sizing up prey.

Welcome to Stellar Mining Station Arinna.

One: Ascend the Brightest Heaven

This system meets some of its material and energy needs by drawing and refining plasma directly from the surface of its star. The result is a near-limitless supply of raw material. The heroes, in an attempt to earn enough money to leave the system, have signed on to work in the local stellar mining operation.

Once the heroes are onboard, the miners immediately show themselves to be a surly lot suspicious of outsiders. They react to the group at -2; ignore results of “Violent. Immediate attack” or “Hostile. Attack on (x),” for now, but note which heroes drew the reactions. Before trouble starts, the heroes are hustled into an orientation (consisting of a holographic presentation of the information found under “Stellar Mining Station Arinna”, below), a short tour, the signing of forms, safety briefings, and initial skill assessments; all of which takes eight hours. Afterward, the team is left at liberty.

The heroes doubtless learned the location of the station’s bar during the tour. Any who return there finds it well attended. Vaulis Piirsin (see below, and note special instructions), also tags along. Unfortunately, the hostility the group encountered upon arrival aboard the station still exists. The PCs are subjected to hard looks and veiled insults, with the heroes who previously sparked “violent” or “hostile” reactions as the main targets. Any act of returned ill-will starts a fight that quickly becomes a barroom brawl; the referee may run it in whatever way xe sees fit.

Adventurers in a position to do so notice that during the brawl, Piirsin doesn’t fight xir opponents. Instead, he has a brief, quiet talk with them, whereupon they either choose another target or protect xir. Up to 1D+1 opponents take xir side in this manner.

The fight ends in 4D combat rounds when station security arrives. No one is seriously punished since the station is a rather bare-knuckled place, but the newcomers are warned that any similar occurrence in the future means demerits (see below).

If no PCs patronized the bar, ignore the above. But in the ensuing days, they notice that Piirsin seems to be making fast friends among the other miners, with 1D+1 always seeming to hang around xir (see below). If they took part in the bar fight, they recognize several of xir new buddies as would-be opponents. If asked about it, xe simply chalks it up to mutual respect and understanding.

The next day, the adventurers are assigned to their work areas, as detailed under “Life Aboard Arinna,” below. Each adventurer is paid Cr500/week. This figure assumes the company has already deducted for basic life support; anything else may be purchased from the company store. The store (not detailed here) carries a reasonable stock of supplies and sundries, but not weapons. The referee is free to create a list of items found therein or use published canon lists. However, the influx of cheap energy and raw materials has translated into economic inflation; prices are 30% higher than published.

Two: Doubt Thou the Stars Are Fire

The referee should allow the group to settle into their new routine for 1-3 weeks, using the weekly tasks and encounters given under “Life Aboard Arinna” above. At the end of this period, events take a much darker turn:

During the heroes’ shift a plasma breach alarm sounds and fire control teams are scrambled. Any PCs present are witness to the reason for the excitement: one of their fellow workgroup members is unhappily standing directly in front of a section of plasma conduit that breaches. The worker is killed in seconds by the resulting wash of plasma; xe doesn’t even have time to scream.

The plasma breach sparks a fire which the PCs are expected to help fight. Firefighting equipment is nearby, but not all heroes will be able to get their hands on it. Each PC does so on 5+. Only one throw is allowed per individual in the area.

To run the fire, the referee should begin by throwing 2D+3. This represents the fire’s intensity (i) and the amount of damage it does to living flesh per combat round of direct contact. Multiply the intensity by the following:

Finally, throw 1D. This is the interval, the number of combat rounds it takes for the fire to add another level of growth, assuming enough combustible material around.

The effort to put out the blaze is conducted per Book 1 combat. Each piece of firefighting equipment does 2D against the fire’s hit points; once they reach zero, it’s snuffed. But note the Growth factor above.

The station is equipped with a fire-suppression system, but it doesn’t trigger until the fire has grown to 350 cubic meters. When it comes on line, it does an additional 6D per round against the fire until it’s either put out or has grown beyond control.

If the fire reaches 500 cubic meters, it’s considered out of control and the station’s computer begins the decompression process for the entire deck. Decompression can’t be stopped once started; anyone who doesn’t leave immediately (4+ to escape) takes 2D damage vacuum exposure per combat round per the rules in Snapshot (available from Far Future Enterprises.)

Once the fire is out, the chaos dies down and the workgroups return to their duties; Station Superintendent Wesleigh Devereaux (see below), arrives flanked by two aides to inspect the damage. Xe makes a great show of concern, talking to witnesses, and displaying leadership. But xe’s lying; an ex-Bureaucrat or an ex-Diplomat can determine this automatically; anyone else does so on an 11+. As xe talks with the heroes, throw xir Reaction to each and take note of the highest result. If there’s a tie, note which PC has the lower SOC.

In the wake of the excitement, the heroes may (9+) note the station’s chief astrophysicist, Aeolwyn Chancellor (see below), paying a rare visit to the Refinery. Xe takes Devereaux aside and has what looks to be a hushed but heated discussion. Xe storms off after a few minutes without talking to anyone else. Devereaux stays mum, citing confidentiality. Heroes who “eavesdrop” using Telepathy or Clairvoyance hear Chancellor accuse Devereaux of “ignoring the data” and warning that “disaster’s right around the corner” while xe’s focused on chasing credits.

1D hours later, Devereaux summons the PC who elicited the highest reaction from her. She offers xir a chance to work for her, keeping a close eye on Chancellor and passing along information on xir (Chancellor) to xir (Devereaux). As a secondary mission, they’re also to pass along tidbits of information concerning events among the workers. To force the PC into compliance, xe implies that if the hero refuses to play ball, xe’ll put the word out that xe’s a snitch regardless. Once that word reaches the other miners, unpleasantness is bound to ensue. But xe also sweetens the pot by offering 10% more pay each week along with other, unspecified benefits.

If the adventurer refuses, Devereaux keeps xir word; xe spreads word that the hero is a mole, with the result that reactions must be thrown against the adventurer again, at an additional –2. In addition, she makes sure the hero is assigned to the dirtiest, most dangerous jobs in the refinery (–4 to the weekly success throw thereafter.) If the PC agrees, Devereaux expects a report at least once a week. In addition to the above throws for success and rumors, Devereaux’s pawn must also throw 9+ each week to pick up on any misdeeds by xir fellow miners. These aren’t important to the adventure; the referee may make up whatever minor transgressions xe likes (such things as contraband, minor scuffles, and petty theft are common in a place like Arinna.) But each time the hero makes a report, xe must throw 9+ to avoid the other miners finding out and branding the informer accordingly.

Since Chancellor was specifically cited by Devereaux, the team may want to find out more about xir. How they get the information is their choice, but the base chance of them getting useful information is 10+. Devereaux’s puppet gets a DM of +4 due to access to confidential files. If the throw to gather intel comes up a natural 2, Chancellor is alerted and requests they stop or be reported to management. Diligent investigation reveals that Chancellor’s especially concerned about the star’s recent activity.

Investigating Dr. Chancellor offers the side benefit of putting the heroes in a position to intervene when they interrupt a group of miners beating Chancellor up in a back corridor. The miners—whom the adventurers will recognize as being among Piirsin’s new friends—number the same as the PCs, and are initially unarmed. If the adventurers prove to be too tough, however, the opponents pick up whatever’s handy as a weapon. They’ll flee once 30% of them have been neutralized.

By the time the PCs rescue him, Chancellor has taken 3D damage. If xe’s still conscious—and the PCs haven’t tipped xir off that they’ve been investigating xir—xe requests that xe be taken to xir quarters instead of Medical, where the ruffians will no doubt try to finish him off.

Three: Time is the Fire in Which We Burn

If the PCs ask Chancellor about xir work or xir suspicions of the star’s activity, xe’ll eagerly discuss them. In xir role of studying the star, xe’s found an abnormal increase in magnetic activity in the areas in which the station has used its meson gun to “prime” the stellar material. Xe’s traced the cause to the way the meson beam interacts with the star’s magnetic lines of force. The result has been pressure and plasma plumes that have sometimes been only barely controllable. The plasma breach that killed the worker was caused by a sudden uncontrollable surge in the plume. Worse, long-term problems are occurring in that pressure is building up deep within the star that, sooner or later, is going to result in a coronal mass ejection (CME) that’s sure to destroy the station with all hands.

Xe’s tried to bring this to Devereaux’s attention to no avail. Meanwhile, xe’s been collecting mounting evidence of the coming disaster and storing it in xir portion of the station’s computer. While xe hasn’t yet pinpointed when the CME will occur, xir data—based on an algorithm xe devised to calculate the rate of increase—indicates that it will be sometime in the coming week.

When xe tries to show them the algorithm, xe discovers it missing; xir computer has been hacked and some of xir files deleted. Heroes with Computer skill observe that the data deletions are precise and surgical, suggesting a modicum of skill. The pattern of the file deletions suggests that someone wanted to get rid of only data concerning the star’s unusual activity, leaving data on its normal state alone. Curiously, a file Chancellor kept concerning information on the Church of Stellar Divinity (see below) was among those deleted.

The party has a chance to track the digital assailant forensically, on a throw of 13+ (DM: Computer skill.) If successful, the group finds that the attack came from a terminal in the habitat area.

The PCs now know that the station is in danger; a person or persons unknown for unfathomable reasons want that danger to occur; and the Station Superintendent is more concerned about the flow of credits and xir grudge with Chancellor. With clues falling into place and attacks on them mounting, the PCs should realize they’re in a position to prevent the station’s destruction. Chancellor’s injuries prevent xir from helping directly, but xe promises to try and rebuild the algorithm so the impending disaster can be monitored.

A PC working for Devereaux is in a tough spot. Xe’s expected to report this turn of events to the superintendent ASAP. On the other hand, doing so might jeopardize efforts to save the station as Devereaux feels xe must protect xir assets. Making the report exposes the adventurer to being outed as a snitch (9+).If the adventurer makes the report, be sure to make the throw to be outed as a snitch (9+). Devereaux promises simply to “look into it,” but on xir way out of the office, the hero notices (on 11+) the Superintendent going for the comm.

Unfortunately for the heroes the clock starts ticking. The referee should throw 4D10; this is the number of hours until a CME obliterates the station with all hands (xe can of course change this figure.) This figure should be further divided by ten; these represent timepoints in which increasing “wild” flare activity occurs—at the 4th, 6th, 8th, and 9th timepoints. The 10th of course is when the CME occurs. The flares do damage to the station per the rules in Book 2: Starships. Referees with Book 5: High Guard can use the tables therein instead, with a hit occurring on 7+ and damage as a plasma gun.

The adventurers of course have no knowledge of when the flares hit or when the CME is due. Chancellor’s algorithm—if xe gets it rebuilt in time—can give them that knowledge. The referee should throw 1D; this is the number of hours it takes xir to write the program. A PC with Computer skill can assist xir, providing a DM to the throw equal to xir (the PC’s) Computer skill minus 1. The effort succeeds on 10+. Failure means another 1D hours and another success throw. If a stellar flare damages the station’s computer, impose a -2 DM to subsequent throws.

The flares naturally raise the heat and radiation levels. The referee should immediately impose another HEA damage throw for the station per the rules below.

In the meantime, the group still needs to find out who wants the station destroyed. Their best clue (if they successfully traced the hacker) leads them to Azar Khurshid (see below), a low-level IT officer. The adventurers immediately recognize xir as one of Piirsin’s boon companions. Xe talks—with very little persuasion—about anything the team wants to know except who encouraged xir to hack Chancellor’s computer. A Reaction throw of 10+ (Responsive) makes xir talk anyway (DMs: Liaison or Interrogation skill, or +1 per point of physical pain). If so, the team learns that the one who put Khurshid up to it is none other than Vaulis Piirsin.

As the adventurers are leaving Khurshid’s quarters, they get a comm call from Chancellor. They don’t hear much—sounds of a struggle; and a strained cry, abruptly cut off. Clearly there’s trouble. PCs rushing to Chancellor’s quarters find themselves ambushed midway by a group of miners outnumbering them 2:1 and armed with metal rods (treat as Cudgel.) They attack until they’ve taken 60% casualties or all of the adventurers are unconscious.

If the heroes win, they reach Chancellor’s quarters only to find signs of a violent struggle. The scientist is gone, xir computer drives wiped clean and xir hardcopy files missing. They might find a clue: a small item dropped by one of the abductors (referee’s choice, but something the PCs previously observed on one or more of Piirsin’s companions.) The result of this encounter plays out in similar fashion to that with Khurshid.

If the heroes lose, they awaken locked up in Security. The referee must determine how much time has passed. The guards inform them that they’ve been terminated due to the discovery on their persons of plans to sabotage the station (forged, of course) and they’ll be shipped out on the next shuttle. PCs working for Devereaux, however, have the opportunity to explain the situation to xir. Xe’ll buy the story on a 9+ and have the entire group released and reinstated. Otherwise, the team must find its own means of escape. If they do so, they’ll be hunted by Security for the rest of the adventure.

Four: And Pay No Worship to the Garish Sun

Events are now coming to a head. If the PCs were confined and subsequently escaped, they may be hunted by station security. They have yet to solve the mystery of where Dr. Chancellor—who was rebuilding an algorithm to monitor and predict the increasing stellar flare activity—was taken. But they have a suspect: Vaulis Piirsin, whose mysterious plans are almost complete. While it’s probably still unclear what xe’s up to, they should be quite convinced that xe’s up to something, and they must put a stop to it.

Finding Piirsin has probably risen to the top of the group’s to-do list. Xe’s still aboard the station, but has gone into hiding, with xir contemporaries covering for him at every opportunity. Xe hasn’t even shown up for the past several work shifts. The group can search for xir during their off hours, with each PC having a chance to find xir on a throw of 15+ (DMs: Liaison, Streetwise, or Tactics skill). If xe’s found and confronted, he naturally denies the accusations, but sends 1D+5 goons to silence the adventurers later. If pushed, xe’ll use xir Influence ability on a PC; this is a last resort, since it reveals xir as a psionic. Then, xe Influences the most powerful member of the group to protect xir while xe disappears.

Finding Chancellor might be easier. Xe’s alive, but even more badly injured. The kidnappers are holding xir in a maintenance area in the warren of tunnels surrounding the station’s spinal mount, where a small crew of Influenced crewmembers is working on the station’s meson gun. Xe’s guarded at all times by two goons, but the group can find xir on 12+ (same DMs as above) Piirsin visits the area frequently, and can be found there at any given time on 8+.

On Piirsin’s orders, the men are rigging the weapon to hypercharge it and produce a much stronger meson beam than it’s rated for. This will, of course, destroy it and damage the station. Meanwhile, the beam reaches deep into the star and creates an explosion big enough to bring about the coronal mass ejection ahead of Chancellor’s calculations. Devereaux has no idea this is occurring and has ordered another burst of the cannon in 2D hours to start the next round of extractions. If the referee wants to amp up the tension, xe can shorten this time frame to minutes.

Piirsin’s motivation is religious extremism. While the Church of Stellar Divinity is a generally peaceful sect, Piirsin believes that the station (and the corporation behind it) is raping a benevolent deity and is thus worthy of destruction. Xe is quite devoted to xir self-styled cause, and prepared to die for it.

Piirsin’s people outnumber the PCs 3:1. Fortunately for the adventurers, roughly 30% of the opponents are engineers working on the meson gun; they only fight if attacked. Another 20% are nowhere near as potent as the heroes. The enemies use heavy tools (treat as Cudgel) except the ones guarding Chancellor; they’re armed with homemade shivs (treat as Dagger). Although Influenced, none of them fight to the death; they flee once they’ve taken 25% casualties.

Depending on how loud the battle gets, Security may be alerted (10+. DMs: +2 if explosives or disruptions such as power outages are involved. +4 if deliberately trying to create a disturbance. -4 if the station is suffering full-blown rioting—see Heat below.) Once alerted, 1D+1 guards arrive in 1D+3 minutes.

Five: Fear No More the Heat O’ the Sun

Once Piirsin’s plan has been stopped and Chancellor has been rescued, the group’s work isn’t over. If the stellar flares have raised the station’s Heat, riots may have broken out all over the station. Superintendent Devereaux may ask the group (through xir pawn) to help put down the violence. Xe’s not particular about how they go about it; she’s quite desperate at this point and the group may be able to get concessions out of xir, not the least of which is their exoneration if Security was after them.

Once the violence is dealt with, they should be able to assist Chancellor in recreating xir algorithm and making xir case to move the station. Faced with the evidence of events leading to this point, Devereaux has little choice but to compromise. Xir resentment is aimed against both Chancellor and the PCs from then on, however. And she takes it out on the workers by making them foot the bill for lost production associated with moving the station. Everyone can expect to lose half a week’s wages, but at least there’s no longer the danger of being destroyed.

If Piirsin survived the final conflict, the PCs have a choice of who to turn xir over to: the company, through Devereaux, wants xir for attempted sabotage and disruption of production. The planetary authorities would no doubt want a word with xir about disruption of commerce, first-degree kidnapping, and several hundred counts of attempted murder. Since the station is in space, even the Imperium could claim jurisdiction on the grounds of harboring illegal psionic abilities and several violations of astrotime law, plus the aforementioned kidnapping and attempted murder charges.

Whoever the heroes decide to hand Piirsin over to, the resulting reward should be enough to fund their way out of the system. They’ll finally be able to put some distance between themselves and the boiling cauldron of emotion known as Stellar Mining Station Arinna.

Major NPCs

Wesleigh Devereaux
668A99; Age 50; Cr240,000
(8 terms) Bureaucrat (Manager);
Arinna Station Superintendent
Admin-4, Interrogation-3

Devereaux runs the station with an iron fist. In an effort to maintain control, xe relies heavily on xir overworked security staff and suborned pawns gained through cash, blackmail, and even sex. Xe feels that Aeolwyn Chancellor (below) is an alarmist fool and resents him intensely. Rumors A, E, I, U, W, and X.

Aeolwyn Chancellor
567DE6; Age 31; Cr30,000
(3 terms) Scientist (Astrophysicist)
Computer-3, Jack-O-T-1

Chancellor is the station’s astrophysicist. Xe spends much time locked in xir lab, but readily confronts authority if xe feels the cause is just. Xe’s been noticing dangerously unusual stellar activity due to use of the station’s meson gun, but xir warnings go unheeded by the station Superintendent. Rumors C, D, K, M, and P.

Vaulis Piirsin
586C57; Age 35; Cr20,000
(4 terms) Other;
Stellar Mining-0, Streetwise-1, Blade Cbt-1, Mech-2
Psi Strength-6, Influence (see below)

Piirsin is secretly an extremist devotee of the Church of Stellar Divinity (see Rumor L below.) Xir mission is to destroy the station for stealing the star’s plasma and provoking its wrath. To help xir, xe has been using his psionic talent (below) to create as many allies as he can. After an initial 1D+1 sycophants taken in the bar fight, xe influences 1D-2 (minimum 1) more each week until xe’s stopped or xe’s collected 20 recruits, whichever comes first. For self-defense, xe discreetly carries a shiv he made from sharpening a stray piece of metal (treat as Dagger). Rumors B, C, L, and P.

Influence
(Special): This limited telepathic ability allows Piirsin to interface with the target’s caudate—the area of the brain responsible for feelings of trust and some decision-making—making xir regard Piirsin as a trustworthy ally whose best interests should be acknowledged. Influence is useless against a shielded mind, and Piirsin must be able to see xir target. Influence takes 4 psionic strength points to perform plus range modifiers as Telepathy (Book 3).
Azar Khurshid
496BB4; Age 26; Cr6,000
(2 terms) Scientist;
Computer-3
Typical Arinna Station Security Officer
Various
778767; Terms variable; Cr N/A
Brawling-1, Gun Cbt-1
Snub Pistol (w/Tranq rounds), Cudgel

The referee is encouraged to round out the other Arinna crew members (over 700) using whatever method best works for xir.

New Skill

Stellar Mining:
the individual is skilled in operations involving the extraction and refining of raw materials from stellar plasma. The skill covers such functions as the operation and maintenance of machinery used in the process, the specific techniques used, and all safety regulations intended to preserve life and avoid injury.

Stellar Mining Station Arinna

Stellar Mining Station Arinna is designed to draw off stellar plasma by magnetic collimation and extract useful elements from it. It’s built in a roughly cylindrical configuration attached to a huge polycarbon sunshade, which is the most prominent feature when viewed from outside. See the diagram for particulars

In addition to the protection provided by the sunshield from the extreme light and heat, the station is protected from hard radiation by hull armor. Repulsors (Book 5: High Guard) provide protection from meteoroids and space debris.

The extraction process begins with “priming” the plasma. A spinal mount meson gun creates a disturbance on the star’s surface resulting in a small coronal mass ejection controlled by powerful magnetic collimation. The plasma, which is cooled somewhat by its long journey to the station, is admitted into areas where serviceable elements and minerals are extracted and refined. Some hydrogen from the plume is also diverted to the station’s fuel tanks. Once begun, the process lasts for about a week as the plasma is drawn up by stellar pressure, similar to how liquid is pulled into a straw.

Shuttles call at regular intervals with crew rotations and fresh supplies. Specially outfitted shuttles haul away the raw materials. The station has no provision to dock with any vessel larger than a Type S Scout Ship.

Arinna is Law Level 9 for purposes of weapon possession and use.

High Guard Statistics

Stellar Mining Station Arinna (TL13)
SN-R4012F2-000070-00K00-0 MCr34083.3 100,000 tons Crew=700 TL=13
Passengers=0. Low Berths=0. Cargo N/A. Fuel=2000. EP=2000. Agility=0. Troops=0.

Life Aboard Arinna: The heroes’ first two weeks consist of an accelerated course designed to teach them the ropes. At the end of this period, each hero automatically gains Stellar Mining-0 (see above). Ex-Belters gain Stellar Mining skill equivalent to their Prospecting skill minus 2 (minimum 1). Pay for the Orientation period is 50% of normal.

The PCs are all assigned to the Refinery, composed of 13 workgroups of ten workers each. The PCs’ workgroup includes Vaulis Piirsin (see NPCs previously, and note special instructions.) The referee should be prepared to add enough NPCs to bring the workgroup’s total (including PCs) to ten.

Shifts are 12 hours, with frequent short breaks. Quarters are close and frugal, but the station offers multipurpose areas which double as facilities such as small bars, theaters, and gymnasiums. Station personnel with performing talent provide live entertainment. The computers have extensive databases of holovids and games that are replenished and rotated on a regular basis.

Time aboard the station is measured in weeks. Each week, the heroes should throw the following:

At the end of each week, the referee should record the elapsed time, any rumors or Demerits (see below) the adventurers have picked up, and their accumulated pay. The players may be tasked with keeping track of these items themselves.

Demerits: Infractions draw sanctions from Management in the form of cumulative Demerits. 45 Demerits means the individual is fired immediately and shipped off the station on the very next shuttle. Xe may be kept in confinement until then. Demerits are largely imposed or removed at Management’s discretion. On Arinna, most infractions involve safety violations; but fighting, theft, and deliberate sabotage also top the list.

Heat: Arinna is constantly bombarded by high temperatures and radiation. Even though it has the latest in a sunshade, heat-dissipating systems, and hull armor, enough gets through that it combines with the close quarters and heavy workload to fray nerves and turn the station into a bubbling cauldron of stress; which in turn manifests as interpersonal and labor problems. To simulate this, the referee should keep track of Heat (HEA), expressed as points. The station has an initial HEA score of 75. Each week, the station takes 4D of cumulative HEA damage. The dwindling score directly relates to the current tension level, with effects as follows as the indicated threshold is crossed:

50% HEA: Raucous protests against Management and/or scattered interpersonal brawls, which occur at any given time on 8+. Organized violence (rioting, sabotage, etc.) occurs on 10+. PCs must throw less than the highest of STR, DEX, or END to avoid or take 1D damage. Work completely stops for 1D-3 days. Management responds by docking 10% of pay across the board and handing down 1D Demerits; each PC throws 6+ to avoid Demerits.

25% HEA: Hostility and irritation becomes more blatant. Brawls occur as above on 5+; organized violence on 7+. PCs must throw DEX or less to avoid 1D injury; DMs as above. Management responds by docking pay across the board 25% and handing down 2D Demerits; each PC throws 9+ to avoid Demerits.

10% HEA: Organized violence automatically erupts, manifesting as brawls, sabotage, and rioting. Management responds by locking down the station, giving Security carte blanche to handle the situation, handing down 3D automatic Demerits, and revoking the entire weeks’ pay. Active rioting lasts for 2D hours. PCs failing a throw of DEX or less are caught in the riots for 1D+3 damage.

Each PC also should be given a personal HEA score equal to their END, which are affected by the above; they take 10% of any damage the station takes (round down, but minimum of 1). When HEA reaches 1/2 of total, subsequent throws also manifest as physical and emotional damage (apply to STR, DEX, END, and INT per Book 1 rules). When either HEA or a PC stat reaches 0, the hero must spend time in Medical or on furlough until recovery is complete. The referee may impose other penalties for heat effects. To make things easier for the referee, players may keep track of their own HEA scores.

Encounters

The sheer number of people aboard the station precludes providing a detailed encounter table. While interactions with the rest of the crew are largely unnecessary to the adventure, the referee may want to include some as a way of making the station come to life for the players. One method is found under Pre-Adventure Prep above; the referee and even the players may think of others.

Rumors

Rumors are heard per the weekly Rumors throw. The referee may also provide them as a reward for good investigative work or roleplaying, as well as add to or subtract from the list:

2nd
Die

1st Die

1 2 3 4 5 6
1 A B C D E F
2 G U U W W H
3 I U Y Y W J
4 K X Z Z V L
5 M X X V V N
6 O P Q R S T

Rumors in this style of emphasis are completely or partially untrue.

Rumors in this style of emphasis are expected to be brought by xir mole to Devereaux’s attention (see above).

  1. The station’s establishment wasn’t without controversy. Protests and lawsuits tied up the corporation’s initial investments for 10 years. If finally took an act of the planetary government to clear the way for the station’s construction and now it has to make up for lost time.
  2. The station’s meson gun is military-grade, purchased from the Imperial Navy with special permission. Any use of the cannon other than in mining means big trouble from the empire.
  3. A coronal mass ejection can destroy the station in mere minutes. It’s already had several close calls with small ones.
  4. Constant exposure to hot environments aggravates negative emotional states such as anger and irritability, causes lack of concentration, and causes safety lapses.
  5. The risk of death is a part of the job, but the many safety regulations are supposed to make that risk almost negligible.
  6. The adventurer the crew initially reacted to the worst is invited to drinks with a group of 1D+3 miners to “clear the air” and start over. But the invitation is nothing but a setup to a beating.
  7. The station orbits at 3 stellar radii. It can move at 1g if need be to avoid damage.
  8. Arinna has plenty of nooks and crannies in which to hide all sorts of contraband, including the computer system.
  9. The station is built to be easy to maintain and repair, but this makes it vulnerable to sabotage.
  10. The star is actually a living being, and eventually it will smite the station for stealing its plasma.
  11. Coronal Mass Ejection (CME): a massive burst of stellar matter and radiation out of a star’s corona into space.
  12. Church of Stellar Divinity: a religion whose adherents hold the basic belief that all stars are gods, conscious beings of transcendent power. If one worships xir star, lives an upstanding life, and follows church doctrine, xir soul will acquire spiritual mass, which will be drawn into the star/deity at death. The faith is popular in the Imperium, and tolerated by the Imperial government.
  13. The star, like many others, has a strong magnetosphere. At times, two opposite magnetic fields come together, resulting in a sudden release of energy stored in the original fields, resulting in flares and coronal mass ejections.
  14. Arinna is on average a 72 hour flight from the mainworld, but a skilled pilot can make it in 60.
  15. Arinna is a dog-eat-dog environment. One is either the big dog…or the little one.
  16. Each use of the meson gun creates minute but detectable turbulence in the star’s magnetic field. Over time, this turbulence builds up and creates long-lasting disturbances such as uncontrollable solar flares, CMEs, and magnetic storms.
  17. The company that owns the station has a track record of keeping resources flowing no matter what. Investors love this; workers, not so much.
  18. Devereaux is totally ruthless when it comes to the bottom line. As long as the credits keep flowing, xe couldn’t care less about the workers.
  19. An off-duty miner is overhead complaining about the slowness of the hologame xe likes to play. Someone must be filling up a database somewhere again.
  20. Several plasma conduits are quite old, and may even predate the station. They were no doubt salvaged from some other vessel.

General Rumors

  1. Stellar mining isn’t a widespread method of obtaining resources. Many worlds find the risks and cost-to-benefit ratio too high, especially during the stations’ initial years of operation. Nevertheless, the eventual rewards are fantastic.
  2. Arinna is failing; Management has already missed several payments to the consortium, and it’s just a matter of time until the station is shut down and scrapped.
  3. The station extracts not only hydrogen and helium from the stellar material, but also carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, neon, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, and iron; all torn apart by the high temperatures of the star’s corona.
  4. The station orbits its parent star as close as it can get before risking vaporization. Even so, the sunshade and the hull armor are hard-pressed to keep the station habitable.
  5. Station Superintendent Devereaux started in the Company as a low-level secretary, and clawed and fought (some say slept) xir way to where xe is now. That’s why xe’s so ruthless.
  6. Newbies should remember that the station is a very good place to make enemies.