Freelance Traveller Editor’s Note: This adventure originally appeared in Spanish in Vuelo Raso N. 6, and was translated by Google Translate and Jeff Zeitlin. Lea este artículo en español.
Vuelo Raso Editor’s note. Although this adventure is planned to be played with the Traveller system, it may not be an easy element to manage within the borders of the Third Imperium due to the legal framework in which people with Psi abilities are found. However, it can be perfectly played outside its borders. Although this adventure uses generic names, systems that meet more or less similar basic characteristics and are close can be used. For example, the system "Fantasy (2428 Trojan Reach)" can be a good place to hide the institute and the adventure could start in "Pourne (2324 Trojan Reach)". These locations would also allow it to be played within the framework of The Pirates of Drinax, gaining some powerful allies (or not).
The PCs are hired by a couple who need advice and protection for a rather special building.
The building is a school called “The Lyceum”. Its director, Edwina Lori, is a woman who had to suffer abuse being mistreated by society due to her potential Psi. Fed up with being harassed, she fled her home planet and joined the Scouts. After many years of service, on one of her expeditions she discovered a large number of cylindrical containers of obviously alien manufacture adrift in an asteroid belt, trapped by the gravitational force of a small nearby planetoid. Inside those containers were remnants of an unknown technology. She managed to recover all the containers and sell them for an absurd amount of credits. She invested part of her immense fortune in a facility on a remote planet where she “recruited” young people who showed they had Psi potential, to insert them into society so that the same thing would not happen to her. Edwina lives on a ship that wanders aimlessly around the galaxy so as not to draw attention to “The Lyceum”.
Unfortunately, a terrorist group called “Human Dawn” has learned of the existence of The Lyceum. It intends to kidnap children and young people to transfer them to its own facilities, in order to indoctrinate them to commit acts of terrorism against all those openly hostile institutions against humans with Psi potential. The Human Dawn group has a psionic with Clairvoyance/Clairaudience through which they know that the teachers of The Lyceum are going to hire the services of some mercenaries for their protection. Depending on whether the PCs are able to find a tracking device on the ship or not, the adventure will either be a battle against time to set up a defensive facility or an adventure of running through the jungle to try and get there before Human Dawn arrives and takes all the children.
“I see a battle at school.”
“When? Can you see when that will happen, Aurkene?” asked Professor Hidar.
“Soon, very soon.”
The PCs find themselves on a planet called Aghosha. They have been wandering the taverns, cafes, clubs, the offices and hostels of the Travellers’ Aid Society and other public places in search of a patron in need of their services. So far, it looks like they’re out of luck.
When things get more desperate, one of the PCs, leafing through a local newspaper, finds the following ad:
Personnel sought for security advice in private facilities. Combat experience will be valued. Anyone who is interested call 223 3FH EE3 or 823 3FH EE3, from 09:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00. Ask for Mr Letor or Miss Umrae.
If the PCs investigate the phone numbers, they correspond to the best hotel in the city. If they decide to investigate the hotel before contacting the advertisers (may require them to bribe hotel staff) it will provide only a couple of rumours. For the rest, they will have to kick the city.
- A Navy Veteran (43 years old, 246869) says that this sector of space is quite isolated, but oddly enough it is very well supplied.
- An office worker at the starport (25 years old, 69A975) says (after thinking back) that this planet was colonized by people who sought religious freedom that they did not have on their home planet.
- A computer expert (27 years old, 694985), who has been associated with the Scouts, says he has seen a couple regularly buy materials and food regardless of price.
- A Navy Lieutenant (30 years old, 844BA9) says that the regular comings and goings of a particular ship does not bode well. A similar thing happened years ago.
- A couple of months ago there was a huge sale of manufactured housing modules and furniture.
- They are going to attack specific ships as soon as they leave this planet.
- An academic (58 years old, 692CC9) says that there is an uninhabited but habitable planet in the vicinity of this planetary system. The problem is that it has no gas giant.
- A TAS member (34 years old, 397479) says that children with Psi abilities are disappearing from all over the sector.
- A mercenary captain (33 years old, ex-marine, 9A6DA8) says that there is a couple looking for a group of adventurers for a job. He turned them down because he just got home from a job and what he wants is to spend his earnings.
- A mercenary captain (33 years old, ex-marine, 9A6DA8) says that there are a couple of assassins who are trying to cover their tracks with some nerds.
- As you pass a tavern you may hear the expression ‘psychic eugenics’.
- A retired shipyard worker (age 66, B97577) says that a couple of years ago a scout found some remains of unknown alien technology and sold it for an astronomical amount.
- A newscast contains an article stating that the sector is not very busy, but that, due to recent trade, it is a place with a lot of future prospects.
- The government of the subsector is a representative democracy.
- A mature former explorer (around 50 years old, 433976) says that there are a few groups that want to get the job that has appeared in the local newspaper. They’re going to make a counter offer to Letor and Umrae.
- A homeless man (50 years old, 83799A) is found by the PCs in an alley after taking a good beating. If the party lends him any assistance, the man gratefully engages them in conversation, explaining that when there is a battle against personnel with Psi abilities, it is best to wear an artificial Psi headgear.
- A subsector government official (32 years old, 2639BC) pompously states that they are the most forward-looking sector based on economic data for the past 3 years.
- For some reason, this individual (43 years old, 986596) repeats “the boys wanted to leave” over and over again, as in a litany.
- A young merchant fourth officer (22 years old, 8968A8), currently serving on the freighter Renegade, believes that the PCs are interested in finding the missing boys who seemed to possess Psi potential, and refuses to go any further talking to them.
- A specialist in naval weapons (38 years old, 656AAA), says that the smuggling of animal species has increased. Without a doubt, it is part of the wealth of the planet and it seems that there are aliens who consider humans with Psi abilities as animals.
- The planet has seen its GDP increase by 15% in the last 3 years.
- There are more exotic animals in this region of space than in any other.
- The Art deRoup service company has made a request to all its suppliers in the subsector to acquire more basic products such as fresh food, modular buildings, etc.
- It is impossible to put a starport in Aristae: it does not have a gas giant.
- The administration of this planet is being “greased” by large sums of money that nobody knows or wants to know where they came from. This money is being used to remove barriers to all types of commercial transactions, all of them legal, but the waiting time is now ridiculously short.
- The Zen Jester, a Type Y yacht, will be docking at the starport shortly. It is a casino ship for the use and enjoyment of the wealthy in the sector.
Once the PCs finally decide to go talk to Letor and Umrae, they will be received very cordially and taken to a room specially set up by the hotel for interviews.
The job is to secure a facility and repel an attack by terrorists in a system (not this one) and they cannot say their name unless they accept the job. The pay is 100,000 Cr. and what the PCs need for the mission can be bought on this planet at the patrons’ expense, but once the mission is over they will not be able to keep it, they must leave it on the destination planet. If the PCs accept they will be given more details.
At this point, the PCs can either accept directly or say they’ll think about it. If they don’t accept immediately, the payment will be reduced and will go from 100,000 Cr. to 90,000 Cr.
Accepting the Mission
Once the PCs accept the mission, Letor and Umrae will reveal that they are simple school teachers at a school that is on a nearby and isolated planet called Aristos. The school is called “The Lyceum” and in it the boys with Psi potential learn two main lessons:
- Go unnoticed among the rest of the population.
- Increase their Psi potential.
The PCs have been hired because one of the students, named Aurkene, has had a series of visions in which the school was assaulted by mercenaries. They want the PCs to build its defenses, and if the PCs are on the premises when the assault occurs, assist in defending against the assault. For this they will have an open line of credit (without restrictions) to buy what they want, with the only limit that it must fit in a scout/courier ship.
The Lyceum consists of 10 interconnected modules in the middle of the jungle (L01, L02… L09 and L10). In each module there are between 4 and 6 students, each with a teacher. They do not have defensive towers or any kind of weapon. Evacuation is infeasible, because a large group of children like this would attract attention anywhere else.
Visiting the Scout Ship
This ship is a normal Type-S scout ship that carries an air/raft. If the PCs want, the air/raft can be left at the starport to accommodate more material. This decision has to be made by them; the Referee should not give any kind of clue as to whether or not to make more space. If thePCs choose not to visit the ship, it will be assumed that the air/raft is in it, taking up space.
Equipping for the Mission
The PCs will be able to buy any type of weapons/armor/supplies at TL10 or lower. For higher levels, the referee should decide whether the material should be available, and how much of it. They will not be able to buy another ship. Arms dealers won’t make a fuss about how many weapons they need. The scout ship’s capacity for material is 3 dtons; if they remove the air/raft they can take a total of 7 dtons. They can buy and attach any type of weapon for both the scout and the air/raft.
Once the PCs have made the purchases they deem appropriate, they must load the purchases on the ship. If one of the PCs thinks to check, on a roll of Electronics 10+ or Computer 10+, they’ll find a tracking program or device (if the PC specifies that they’re looking specifically for a tracker, the roll is Electronics 8+ or Computer 8+). The tracker can be deactivated without damaging the ship; if left in place or not found, it will damage the ship’s computer to leave the PCs without any piloting assistance when it’s time to land (see Part B: If the Ship is Sabotaged).
Once the PCs are on board, they and Letor and Umrae will head to Aristos. Once in jump, any belated attempt to find anything planted in the ship will trigger the sabotage and endanger the ship. During travel time, the PCs can ask questions about the residents at The Lyceum. To have a detailed description, they can ask the on-board computer for the data of students and teachers. The students, a total of 50, will be all practically 445246, being able to vary 1 or 2 digits up or down. Below are the UPPs, ages and abilities of the teachers, as well as what barracks they are in.
- Karl Letor. 737CC6 (Psi 12). Age 46.
Master in Awareness, with a specialty in Regeneration. He is in charge of L01.
- Umrae Dalael. 959996 (Psi 7). Age 38.
Engineering-2, Electronics-1, Shuttle Pilot-2.
Master in Telepathy, with a specialty in Telepathy. She is in charge of L02.
- Guillem Fomor. 676584 (Psi 7). Age 38.
Master in Telekinesis. Found at L03.
- Adrià Airda. 629488 (Psi 10). Age 39.
Master in Telepathy, with a specialty in Mental Assault. She is located in L04.
- Fröin Hidar. 454368 (Psi 8). Age 50.
Master in Clairvoyance, with a specialty in Perception. Found at L05.
- Usddoog Grimlord. 996656 (Psi 7). Age 36.
Master in Telepathy, with a specialty in Telepathy. Found at L06.
- Wanfe Cornelius. 3A6889 (Psi 10). Age: 70.
Master in Telepathy, with a specialty in Cyberpathy (special discipline, the same as Telepathy but with any machine that is programmable). Found at L07.
- Alorma Salmarin. 473B73 (Psi 11). Age: 53.
Master in Multiplication (special discipline, capable of generating a copy of himself with his own will for a short period of time). Found at L08.
- Vik Brunogl. 877A9A (Psi 10). Age 46.
Master in Amnepathy (special discipline, capable of erasing a person's memories. He needs visual contact). Found at L09.
- Neelu Leunam. 295705 (Psi 10). Age 50.
Master in Teleportation. Found at L10.
Part A: If the PCs Detected the Sabotage
Arrival at Aristos
If the sabotage was prevented, the approach to Aristos, the entry into orbit and landing in the vicinity of The Lyceum will be routine. The PCs will have 1D6+2 days to prepare for the assault that is coming their way (although they don’t know that). They will be able to place teachers and students however they want, send them wherever they want or, if they wish, help them with whatever they want. The layout of the modules is in the form of barracks, without any kind of security perimeter (wild animals are friendly thanks to Neelu Leunam’s Telempathy). Anything more complicated than putting some weapons on the roof of some module (not installation) will take half a day to a full day. Let them define what to do during the morning, afternoon and night of each day.
Four ships full of mercenaries and Human Dawn fanatics will arrive with automatic weapons and/or lasers (difficulty must be adjusted depending on how well or how poorly they have prepared). The mercenaries come in waves equal to the number of PCs+2 on all flanks. If they manage to capture a student, they will use him/her as a shield to protect themselves while they back off to take them to their ships. The total number of waves can be set, but not less than 3 and not more than 10 (1D8+2). In the penultimate wave 50% of the mercenaries will wear artificial psi-shield helmets. In the last wave, the Human Dawn fanatics will arrive. They are all psions and they are armed. They all possess the Mental Assault (Telepathy) ability. Without psi-shield helmets, the PCs will be lost. The PCs can ask the teachers to help with defensive tasks, but not the students who will be scared to death since they are the prey.
Part B: If the Ship is Sabotaged
The approach to Aristos is going to be difficult.
For starters, there is no communication to The Lyceum of any kind. Immediately upon any attempt by the ship to contact the school, the sabotage will be set off, and the ship will begin to fail. They must make a series of piloting rolls under penalty of making a hard re-entry and an uncontrolled landing, which will result in the loss of 1, 2, or 3 Strength, Dexterity, and/or Stamina points. After the crash, it’s time for explanations; if someone wants to mess around the ship looking for a device or tracking program, it will easily be found on Computer 4+ or Electronics 4+. They will have to move towards The Lyceum from a jungle area.
It will take two days to walk from the site of the crash to the school, more if they intend to arrive with a substantial part of the load. The Human Dawn terrorists will arrive in 1D6+2 days (but the PCs don’t know this).
The referee should roll 1D6-1 animal encounters (Jungle Terrain) each day. All encounters should be described as dangerous; only after the encounter is concluded should non-dangerous (e.g., herbivores) animals be revealed.
The referee has several possibilities at this point:
- Let them arrive before the Human Dawn, in which case they could do something about preparing defensive measures.
- In any other case, they will arrive when those of Human Dawn enter the assault.
If it is the latter, they must decide which barracks (single or multiple) they will try to defend. If they have done their homework (they have read the data of the students and teachers) they will be able to decide which barracks to save and which to leave to their fate. Roll 1D6 to find out at what point in the round they have arrived:
1: The Human Dawn people have only managed to take over one barracks: roll 1D10 and that will be the number of the barracks that they have managed to take the children with.
2-3: Human Dawn have managed to get three full barracks: roll 1D10 and that will be the number of the barrack they got plus the number before and after (for example, if a 1 is rolled with 1D10, they will have taken hut 1, 2 and 10).
4-5: Human Dawn have managed to get five complete barracks: roll 1D10 and that will be the number of the barracks they have gotten plus two numbers before and two after (for example, if a 1 is rolled with 1D10, they will have taken hut 1, 2, 3, 10 and 9).
6: Human Dawn have managed to get seven complete barracks: roll 1D10 and that will be the number of the barrack they have achieved plus three numbers before and three after.
The barracks teachers that have been captured will be dead (except if L01 or L02 are captured, since they are Letor and Umrae who go with the PCs).
At this point, it will only be necessary to defend what they can from the Human Dawn assault. The mercenaries are inside the barracks in equal numbers to the PCs –1. They will try to use the students as shields to protect themselves. The PCs can ask the teachers to help in defensive/offensive tasks (if they are not already dead: 25% chance in each barracks), but not the students who will be scared to death since they are the prey.
If the PCs manage to gain a foothold in a barracks by saving those there, a group of Human Dawn zealots (numbering the same as the PCs –1) will enter. Of them, 1D6 will have the Mental Assault (Telepathy) ability.
After It’s Over
If the PCs manage to completely fend off Human Dawn’s assault, they’ll receive the promised payout plus free Psi training (for any PCs that can benefit from it).
If they manage to partially repel Human Dawn’s assault, they will receive their promised payment.
If Human Dawn manages to take all the kids, they won’t get anything, but they can keep whatever material they want (since the teachers are all dead).
In order to leave the planet, whatever happens, there is a ship hidden on the outskirts of the barracks. If any of the teachers are alive, they’ll bring the PCs to the ship; if all the teachers are dead, the PCs will have to find the ship on their own.
Edwina Lori will find out what happened in a couple of weeks and if there is a total massacre in The Lyceum, she will be the only one to survive since she was not on the planet Aristos at the time of the assault.
The consequences of this adventure are several:
- Human Dawn will take the PCs as enemies, whatever the ending.
- Edwina Lori will take on the PCs as enemies if Human Dawn takes all the children.
- If Human Dawn takes only part of the children, Edwina Lori can task them with finding and retrieving them. This last part can be the beginning of a campaign or series of adventures in which the PCs try to recover the children and/or to put an end to the Human Dawn organization.