This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Freelance Traveller.
At the local starport one of the players is approached by a nervous-looking, middle aged human male (he looks like a mid-level bureaucrat), who asks for a word in private. He states his name is Eneri Smith, and that he’s never done this before. He is looking for someone to transport an item to their next destination, and will pay Cr 250 for the inconvenience (he can be negotiated up to Cr 350, all the cash he has with him). Eneri needs the item to pass through customs unseen, but swears the item is legal and no laws will be broken. If pressed slightly, or if the player seems reluctant, he will state the item is a family picture, and wants it delivered to a family member at the ship’s next destination. He will nervously state that his family has been involved in a feud with another family on the destination planet (his home planet) over some long-forgotten slight, and a rival is highly placed in the starport authority; Eneri wishes to avoid any further confrontations. This rival could, however unlikely, find some way to embarrass, discredit or target his family with the photo, something he wishes to avoid. If accepted the player is handed a sealed standard-size manila envelop.
Of course, not everything is always as it seems.
Possible Directions for This Scenario
- The situation is as presented. The bureaucrat’s name is Eneri Smith, and he works at a minor office in the local government. The photo is of part of his family (he’s in the background) at a family gathering. The recipient is is ailing grandmother. If the photo is inspected at the starport, it will pass through without issues, and his grandmother will be very pleased with this gift, insisting the player(s) stay for tea, etc.
- The picture is as stated above. However the recipient is not his family, but his mistress, and contains details of his plans to leave his wife and young children to be with the mistress instead. This would probably leave the bureaucrat’s family in a difficult situation.
- The picture is as stated in #1 above. However the picture contains hidden details of a scheduled, high-value shipment which is due to leave this port several days after the players’ ship departs, for the same destination. These details are ‘hidden’ in plain sight in the picture’s background, and will be relatively easy to spot, especially for a character with the appropriate skills or level of paranoia. Investigation before leaving the planet will determine that the Eneri Smith who approached the character doesn’t exist. Subsequent events are up to the referee, but could include pirates and/or attempted hijacking.
- The picture is as stated in #1 above. However, there is a microdot data file expertly hidden on the picture. If the dot is removed and read, it will be found to be encoded, and contains industrial secrets of a major manufacturer on the planet. If the picture is inspected at the destination, the hidden microdot will be discovered and the player(s) accused of industrial espionage…
- The picture contains hidden information as above, but the information encoded in the picture are instructions to a team of field agents. The two planets have been engaged in low-level industrial sabotage for years. These instructions are a continuation of the conflict between the two governments, and detail specific industrial and political targets. If the picture is inspected at the starport, the instructions will be discovered, and the player(s) arrested as spies…
- ‘Eneri Smith’ is actually a deep agent for a rival government of the Imperium (or appropriate government for the campaign), and is attempting to pass along vital, top secret information to his contacts. If the picture is inspected at the starport, the message will be discovered, and the player(s) arrested as spies…
Subsequent events are up to the referee.