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Two Patron Encounters for Traveller

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue.

This Old Drone

Required Equipment: Grav Vehicle or Small Craft
Suggested Location: Foreven 1416: Ile Danse: A56A756-B Ri Wa 404 Na

“It’s the mother of all heists,” Marco smiles, looking at the PCs with a mischievous grin. “Thirteen-and-a-half million and the Countess of Jewell’s thanks. Don’t tell me you’re not interested.”

Back during the 5th Frontier War, Marco explains, Zhodani marines occupied Jewell and stole what is famously known as the Joconde artifact (named after the starship that found her). It is no less than the actual body of what some scholars believe was once a member of the race of beings known as the Ancients. The body itself appears to be a normal Droyne female, a member of the drone caste, who it is believed died during the “final war” after her ship was destroyed. Being hundreds of thousands of years old, she has been perfectly preserved by the vacuum of space and was maintained in a vacuum chamber prior to her unlawful appropriation from the Museum of Fine Arts and Antiquities at Jewell.

The Joconde artifact was on loan from the estate of Helena Stavelot, the Countess of Jewell, and as such was insured by Lloyds of Lunion. However, Lloyds refused to honor the insurance policy (worth MCr13.5!), claiming that the theft was an act of war. In order to retain the museum’s business, Lloyds made a good faith effort to buy back the artifact from the Zhodani Consulate, but the Consulate refused to sell, explaining that such artifacts “belong to the ages” and thus cannot be possessed by any individual but rather must be held in trust by a collective body, such as the Zhodani Consulate, which represents the interests of civilization itself. Thus, not only did the Zhodani steal the artifact, but they stated, after the fact, that the Imperial system of government is illegitimate and fit only for barbarians. Needless to say, the Imperium was displeased.

Now the Joconde artifact is going on tour outside of Zhodani space for the first time. Among its first stops will be the Floating Gardens of Ile Danse (Foreven 1416). Somehow, Marco got word of where the artifact will be, when it will be there, and he even has a good idea of what the security arrangements will be thanks to the help of some clairvoyants who are in his employee. What he doesn’t have is a team of thugs who can (a) get in, (b) get out, and most importantly, get the Joconde artifact somewhere in between the aforementioned (a) and (b). That, of course, is where the PCs come in, if they choose to take on what may well be the most dangerous if patriotic job of their criminal careers.

The Floating Gardens are a series of artificial islands that are made to look real, but which are outfitted with grav-modules so that they can literally rise out of the water and thus get out of the way of tropical storms. Marco’s idea is that the PCs should book a room during a time when a hurricane is predicted, then destroy the grav-module during the hurricane, so while the island is descending into the storm, they can take advantage of the confusion and panic to re-appropriate the Jononde artifact and thus make their escape.

Referee’s Information:

Possible directions to take this scenario:

  1. Unless the PCs are wearing psi-shields, a Zhodani security agent catches a whiff of “something’s not right” as they’re doing their reconnaissance of the showroom and decides to put them under surveillance. After this, the PCs will notice that they’re being constantly shadowed by an assortment of swarthy-looking weirdos.
  2. There’s another group that wants to get the artifact, and both they and the PCs sort of “bump into each other” during their initial reconnaissance. Neither one will initially know what to make of the other, until one of the PCs recognizes a member of the other group from a prison stint he or she did at some point in the past.
  3. Everything is going great until a wing of Zhodani fighters show up to blast the PCs’ getaway craft out of the sky.
  4. All is as it seems, except for one minor detail: the artifact’s a fake. As for where the real Joconde artifact is, God only knows, but when Lloyds examines it, they will determine that it’s a clever imitation and will refuse payment. The museum will reluctantly concur.
  5. All is as it seems, except that Marco is working with the Imperial Secret Service, and they don’t want any loose ends (it would be an embarrassment for them to be discovered contracting out jobs to lowly criminal types like the PCs). Hence, the PCs have to be flushed, but that’s a whole other adventure.
  6. All of the above (and have a nice day).

Angry Tweeties

Required Equipment: Starship

The ship’s broker is approached about transporting a consignment of young Iptetean Tweeties, a species of genetically-modified pets that are increasing in popularity throughout the Foreven sector. 1. Piolin Enterprises, the company that created Tweeties, purposely dumbed them down in order comply with the Imperial Commercial Code.However, unbeknownst to most people, the Iptetean Triapus, from which the Tweety was modeled, is intelligent enough to be considered sentient, and about 10% of Tweeties could also qualify as sentient.1

The Triapi once had some measure of civilization prior to encountering humans. Due to a quirk of their psychology, however, they immediately went into hiding at the first sight of people, abandoning their towns for the forests, their ancestral home. Explorers eventually captured a few and took some as pets, and Piolin Enterprises later acquired one of these and decided to genetically transform it into a product line.

2. There are hundreds of different Triapi languages which can be organized into around dozen different language groups, but, of course, nobody knows this. If a Triapus encounters a Tweety at a sufficiently young age, it may attempt to teach the youngster the language2 and legends of their race, but this will require years of sustained effort and will only be successful around 10% of the time. Or course, none of this is generally known. All people know is that as far as pets go, Tweeties are pretty smart if a bit strange looking.

Library Data:

Piolin Enterprises:
A subsidiary of BeastMasters, LIC, specializing in the genetic modification of various animal species for the exotic pets market.

A registered trademark of Piolin Enterprises, the term Tweety refers chiefly to the Iptetean Tweety. Etymologically, the word comes from one of Old Terra’s first genetically-modified pet species, an African Grey parrot colored yellow and given oversized eyes as well as expanded cranial capacity. Prior to this, the word “Tweety” can be traced to the name of a once-popular, animated character.

Iptetean Triapus (pl. Triapi):
An omniverious climber/trapper/strangler of the planet Iptete (Foreven 2334), this creature resembles a small, three-legged octopus, except that it is purple with red splotches, similar to the branches of the Kokimovno trees which it chiefly inhabits, and its “face” resembles a large, green, Kokimovno leaf, which numerous smaller creatures eat. Despite being hideously ugly, they emit a calming “purr” that can be felt more than heard, and so have made popular pets, but not nearly as popular as their genetically-modified variant, the Iptetean Tweety.

Iptetean Tweety:
A genetically-modified variant of the Iptetean Triapus that has two of its three eyes hugely expanded, whereas the third, remaining at its normal size, is perpetually hidden behind a large yellow face that is generally more appealing to customers. The Tweety also has what looks like two large, yellow ears, but these are non-functional. Legal note: Piolin Enterprises holds an Imperium-wide trademark for the term “Tweety” in relation to the marketing of pets and the statement “They’re ugly, but they’re cute” in relation to the marketing of genetically-modified animals.

Referee’s Information:

Possible directions to take this scenario:

  1. The Tweeties in the cargo hold are newborns, and one of the passengers (or crewmembers) who has a pet Triapus notices that their pet seems to be drawn to them. This is made obvious due to the fact that whenever the Triapus and the Tweeties get into sufficiently close proximity, they engage in what appears to be a massive “purr-session” that is actually a pleasure to witness. The loud, “tribble-like” purring, once it stops being funny, is innately soothing to human senses. It’s apparent that even without being able to see each other, both the Triapus and the Tweeties can hear each other, and they appear to be very pleased or possibly excited with each other’s presence. The Triapus, realizing that it’s dealing with newborns, is simply trying to teach them what little it can. If it’s able to interact with them face-to-face, it’ll point at things as it purrs, effectively teaching them words. Of course, whether or not any humans realize this is another matter, as only roughly one in ten of the pupils will be able to convert such lessons into long-term memory.
  2. As #1, but rather than being newborns, the Tweeties are adolescents, and, as chance wold have it, 10% of them can understand the Triapus quite well, as they were all taught the same Triapi language during their childhoods. Unfortunately, they were also radicalized by their teacher, who taught them that they must prepare for the day when a savior will be born who will lead them in a Great Strangling, and that wherever they are taken in the universe, they must remember their sacred home world and the terrible indignity that has been perpetrated upon them by their evil, ugly, alien overlords. In the meantime, however, they believe they must play the part of obedient subjects, for the time to strike is not yet. Hence, for all practical purposes, nothing remarkable happens, at least from the perspective of the ship’s crew.
  3. As #2, but one of the Tweeties claims to be the great savior, and it wants the Triapus to help them bust out of captivity. The Triapus, however, has been well-treated by its human, who takes time to play with it on a daily basis. Hence, it has grown genuine affection toward Humaniti and doesn’t want to participate in any sort of strangling, great or otherwise. Hence, it will try to warn its human about the danger in the cargo hold.
  4. As #3, but the Triapus feels mistreated, and so it will help the Tweeties escape. Hilarity ensues as they pile into an airlock and manage to escape into a very, very large space.
  5. As #4, but the Tweeties will go off in all different directions, about 10% reacting violently to humans but the other 90% behaving like confused animals.
  6. As #4, but the Tweeties believe the time of the Great Strangling has arrived. Led by their savior, they’ll try to strangle the crew and passengers and seize control of the ship. The Triapus, of course, will act as their guide, helping them execute their plans.