Lizard on Board
This adventure originally appeared in Spanish in Vuelo Raso N. 1. Translation was by Google Translate and Jeff Zeitlin, and originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of Freelance Traveller. Lea este artículo en español.
This adventure is designed to be played in any border subsector where there is a planet with a large population (Population Code 6+) that catches travelers several hops from their final destination. This way it won’t be a big setback.
The adventure begins when the travelers arrive at the starport that the Referee has chosen as their starting place, where they will meet “Ket-Ket”. “Ket-Ket” is a friendly Lacerto. He is in full migratory fever and despite already being seven years old, he is quite childish in certain aspects of his life and is looking for a new home. He has saved/stolen/searched hard to pay for his ticket and has a total of 5000 Cr, although Ket-Ket is aware that they will surely not let him disembark at the first starport they arrive at and will have to make several jumps. The PCs don’t have to know that. At least Ket-Ket won’t tell and he has enough money for a total of two low-class jumps and doesn’t care which planet he’s going to, as long as it can be settled. When the money runs out (which will be sooner than expected) and depending on where they are, it will depend on the PCs how to deal with the situation. As a Referee you should keep in mind that at the next stop they are not going to let you leave the starport, nor will they let the ship leave without taking Ket-Ket with them (they already have enough “Ket-Ket” living there).
Part One: A Peculiar Passenger
The first contact with Ket-Ket should occur while the PCs resupply their ship and dedicate themselves a little to their chores, including wasting a little time in the leisure or recreation areas. In reality, there are many ways to introduce Ket-Ket to the group, although ideally it would be in a friendly way, making them like him as this will make it easier for them to agree to take him. If the characters are actively searching for passengers at the starport, wherever they are going, the first one on the list will always be Ket-Ket. He has been around the station for several weeks and has known how to use his skills to win the friendship of many workers. So much so that many recommend that he be given a chance “he has a very good heart” or “he deserves to have a chance in life” and phrases like that.
Ket-Ket has a skin pattern typical of the first generation of members of his race: skin color, generally navy blue with a complex pattern of rounded light gray spots. While this may initially make him seem dangerous, all he has to do is open his mouth and start speaking for all traces of threat to quickly dissipate. Ket-Ket will talk at length, being more of a mouth than an informant: he talks a lot and actually says very little. He is totally proud of his budget since it has cost him a lot of effort to “raise” the money and he is willing to pay the 2,200 Cr. that the low-class ticket costs to wherever.
If the more greedy travelers pressure him trying to earn more money, he will end up agreeing to pay 2,500 Cr. per jump, but his face will become very sad and regretful, his tone of voice will become sad and prim. If they try to convince him to pay more money, he will leave crying and sobbing from the rooftops about “bad ship people”, “they want to deceive poor Ket-Ket”, “Ket-Ket just wants to travel and be happy” and a lot of things like that. Some staff may be offended by this and treat the PCs in a colder or more distant manner. The staff members are used to Ket-Ket and his kind being turned away as passengers on many ships, but they are not used to being charged more for “being a different species,” especially since they eat less, they occupy less and breathe less. If they reject Ket-Ket primarily for financial reasons, travelers will never hear from him again. If you ask his former friends and workers, you will receive dry answers like “what do you care”, “after you left, he traveled in a strange ship and we have not heard from him again” and a multitude of things like that. style.
If you still want to force the introduction of Ket-Ket, you can try to stow him away on the ship, although it will surely not end well for poor Ket-Ket.
If, on the other hand, the PCs agree to take him at the suggested price, they will gain the sympathy of the starport workers, who will be more pleasant and approachable than usual. Before leaving, Ket-Ket will make a very emotional round of goodbyes. All of his friendly workers have bought him a custom-made brown trench coat so that he “makes a good impression” wherever he wants him to go. They will help him put it on and will help him to smooth out any wrinkles that may remain.
When playing Ket-Ket try to move a lot, especially your hands and head, talk quickly, when you talk about yourself say your name and change your mood constantly while you talk, be a roller coaster of emotions. This is generally normal for Lacerto; due to their rapid life cycle, they remember all the moments of their lives with great intensity and this makes their moods a little volatile. However, when they feel sad or happy about something, this feeling can last for days. This is important because if travelers want, they may get a new and loyal friend for their crew.
Ket-Ket has gained the sympathy of most of the workers because he has had a difficult life, even for a member of his species. Among many other things, he almost died in the garbage compactor on his first day at the starport. Something he mentions many times in his torrent of moods. A tirade of yours at this point in the event could go something like this:
“(Happy) Ket-Ket wants to travel far, far to the stars and other planets (Sad) away from his family and friends (Joyful) But far from that trash compactor that almost crushed Ket-Ket! (Sad) Ket-Ket almost died that day and would never have seen the ships go fiiiiuuuuu (Happy) fiuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu (Sad) but no one wants to take Ket-Ket on their ship (Happy) You do, right! Ket-Ket pay fare price! (Sad) Please take Ket-Ket to his destiny in the stars…”
Interpretation Tips During the Trip
Ket-Ket turns out to be a fairly patient passenger among his kind: he repeats to himself, almost constantly but out loud to the consternation of those who listen to him: “Ket-Ket has to behave well, his friends have told him yes.” He behaves well and does not give off the appearance, he will give a good image wherever he goes. Ket-Ket will not give the badge because he does not have badges” and any similar comment that occurs to the Referee. He is eager to learn and if given the opportunity he can spend the day asking about everything on the ship, how it works, what this button is for, what happens if I touch this and this, and if I touch them at the same time… and many things like that with an intelligent curiosity that can sometimes border on childish. His Jack-of-all-Trades 1 skill can make him seem more adept than normal at learning new things.
Every day he will put on the raincoat, which he won’t part from, as though it’s stuck to him with glue. The problem is that if he does not receive help when putting it on, the lack of practice in using clothes will make him give the opposite of a good impression. A patient PC can help him and teach him how to put it on and take it off each day to remain presentable. Although he is a student who gets distracted very easily, he will get the hang of it in a few days.
Part Two: A Closed Starport
Ket-Ket is not very excited about arriving at the starport. He breaks down a little and loses hope for the first time since the PCs have met him: he knows that his kind is not going to be welcome here. Unless the PCs have gained his trust, he will not give details about it, but as strange as it may seem, he will not want to talk about it. And it won’t take long for the PCs to realize why. The starport guard will make it clear that Ket-Ket can get off the ship and walk around the starport but he cannot stay here. They will not let the ship leave without the latter being on board and when they talk about “Ket-Ket” they will do so with the nickname “space scum” or similar synonyms. The poor guy is not caught by surprise, since his friends from the starport had already warned him about it. But while they are docked, he can use the starport as one of his own. They may even put a locator on poor Ket-Ket to make sure where he is at all times and that he doesn’t descend/escape to the planet to “spawn more scum.”
Being able to walk through the starport will be a breath of fresh air for Ket-Ket, who will immediately forget about the incident and make his face happy. After this, the PCs will soon lose sight of him among the shops and people at the station. Although if they want to find him it won’t take long to do so at a drinks stand. With the subsequent chaos that this will entail for Ket-Ket, although in his innocence, he is unaware of the dark direction that his life is going to take at this moment.
In general, you should let the PCs carry out all the things they have to do on their own and without Ket-Ket’s intervention, unless they expressly care to take him with them. Ket-Ket is a born survivor and in principle nothing should happen to him for spending a few days in a starport. Although later you will see that this is not the case at all. It’s a good time to introduce the PCs to another adventure.
When they are ready to leave, Ket-Ket will wait for them next to the ship carrying in his arms a large number of mini-cans of beverages with very bright colors.
Ket-Ket will begin to deposit this merchandise in all the places to which he has access on the ship (which do not necessarily have to be the same as the places to which the PCs allow him access). Ket-Ket is visibly upset, very nervous and may even look like he is on drugs. This is due to the effect of these substances on his body.
Move a lot, speak very quickly, cut a sentence to start another, go to one place and halfway, change your mind and go to another place as if you had forgotten the frying pan on the fire, and always at hand, a mini can. From time to time, forget where you left your raincoat, even if you have it on. Although this scene will initially tend to be funny, it should become serious and worrying when it becomes clear that Ket-Ket has a serious addiction problem.
When you speak, try not to be understood because of how fast you speak, make it clear that you are not in your right mind with your nervous attitude on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
The PCs should notice before or after departure that something is wrong with Ket-Ket.
Interpretation Tips During the Trip
If the PCs have realized what is happening to Ket-Ket, they may try to detox him from the ultra-energy drinks he has become addicted to overnight. They can try different ways to do it, but locking him up will not be so easy, as he can sneak through many channels and cause more than one headache. Also, by the time they lock him up, Ket-Ket will likely have hidden the mini cans distributed throughout the ship, like he used to do with his belongings when he lived on the streets.
If in the future you want to emphasize nostalgia for this NPC, hidden cans should continue to appear at any time anywhere, for example, under the controls of a turret in the middle of a space combat, or while repairing a damaged system in the jump engine. Places where you say, “but how did this get here?”
Abstinence for Ket-Ket can be an ordeal, but two days will help him regain his usual state of mind and overcome the addiction. He may even go so far as to self-harm to get a fix. If they still manage to make him go two days without that dose, “what comes easy, goes easy.” On the other hand, if they do not help him overcome the addiction, there will come a point where it will be unbearable to live with him on a ship. He will barely sleep an hour a day and the rest of the time he will spend meaningless moving things from one side to the other, running with his arms raised while shouting “there he goes Ket-Ket iuuuuum” and things like that, affecting rest and the mental health of the entire crew. Not to mention that he will push a lot of buttons, which are usually better left untouched.
If you do not help him at this point, when they descend on the next star port Ket-Ket will leave and never return; it is now or never.
Part Three: A Turning Point
At this point, Ket-Ket will be able to land at the next starport and will never return or attempt to continue its journey one more stop. The poor being has no more money since he has spent it all on drink, his raincoat is in tatters, although if he has been detoxified, he will do everything possible to make it smooth and presentable, probably begging for help from travelers through tears, realizing that he has been on the verge of throwing his life overboard.
The Starport staff will treat Ket-Ket with disdain, but they will not pay him any more attention either. There are some members of his species hanging around the waste area and they know how things go. Ket-Ket will go around a few times and after a few hours he will return to the PCs. It will make them understand that this is a good place to stay and that as there are more members of their species they will not feel alone and will be able to start a new life in a new place as they have always wanted, but, and there is always a but, they prefer to continue at the same time, one more trip, a more distant place. Maybe not more exotic or attractive, but he had saved up for three jumps and even though he has lost all his money, he will beg the PCs to give him the chance to jump again. He actually wants to stay with the people who have saved him from a life of addiction. So this scene may repeat itself with each new jump they take, until they settle the issue of whether or not he can stay with the PCs.
If the PCs do not give in and convince him that he is better off here, among his own people, or even help him financially, Ket-Ket will be sad, but they will have gained the local Lacerto tribe as allies, since Ket-Ket will constantly talk about the exploits of the PCs as he rises through the ranks. These feats will become increasingly exaggerated and idealized, reaching a point where it will be the PCs themselves who saved him from the trash compactor and who knows how many other things. With time and migration, these stories will cross borders and become a legend in the oral tradition of this species and within five years the PCs may hear the story and not even recognize themselves.
Ket-Ket will spend the rest of his days living quietly and peacefully, watching all the arriving ships and hoping to find the only people he is now able to call “family and friends,” silently wishing that one of them would descend from each ship that docks at the dock. And if they come back, or whenever they come back, that will be the happiest day of Ket-Ket’s short life.
At this point, and although perhaps not immediately, the PCs will eventually realize that Ket-Ket really wanted to spend the rest of his days with them, he wanted to demonstrate everything he has learned about the operation of the ship on his own. account at the last moment and try to demonstrate that he was willing to abandon his desire for a new home, for a destiny in the stars. They may not realize it at the time, but later, as they leap to a new destination, they may realize how important the PCs have been to someone with a life as short and intense as that of Ket-Ket and how his eyes shone when he was next to them. If you return, Ket-Ket will always be waiting for you
If Ket-Ket descends to the starport while addicted, he will come down saying that he has to do “some things,” but he will never return. No matter how much the PCs try to look for him, they will probably never find him. Maybe, in the future, in another place, living poorly or dead, but not at this moment. They held Ket-Ket’s life and destiny in their hands and let it shatter, like a glass vase, against the ground in a thousand shards. Now every time they find an empty can hidden around the ship, travelers will remember with nostalgia the possible companion they lost.
Although perhaps one of the old gods will give them a chance to right his mistake, a small thread of destiny that they can pull on to save him. A security footage of Ket-Ket descending to the planet? An unconscious Ket-Ket being picked up by a mysterious figure? Someone who claims that Ket-Ket took on a debt to a betting house that he was never able to pay and paid the consequences? A group of hooded beings accompanying him?