The players begin their adventure on Rizone, a back water planet with low local technology. They are at the starport planetside. There is no up port.
The party sees a woman (Geneva) crying in a corner of a bar (or another convenient location if the referee desires). This is on the planet Rizone - a low tech world. Blond hair and dressed in a black and white tunic with black slacks. Geneva looks to be in her late 20's or early 30's. Her fiance was on a contracted resupply ship named "Cole Retas" that was taking supplies to the mine on a planetoid in the Qzufarazu (0101) X376000-0 system (mapped as uninhabited), bring back some ore from a small prospective mining operation owned by a startup company called Rutland and Co., but nothing has been heard from it. 3 months have passed since the ship was supposed to be back, so it is way overdue.
A scout ship owner had been contacted and a bargain reached to try to reach the planetoid. But a couple of days before departure another patron purchased his services for a higher price and so he took off without her. There are no independant ships that she has been able to find to take her in the past few days so she is at a loss. There is some traffic to the sleepy star port but it is mainly free traders who have no interest in leaving their trade route for a mission that won't pay much.
She is offering a total of 20,000 credits for passage to the mine, investigate, and a safe return - hopefully with the fiance if he is OK. The fee is 10,000 upfront and 10,000 on her safe return. She will not tell the characters except under dire circumstances, but she only has the first 10k credits. She is gambling that her boyfriend is alive and can help pay. Lunar Kith is his name. She can tell the party that he was the pilot of the ship and that he is has extensive experience as a space ship pilot and even more as a pilot of planes. He is a stern leader of the ships he pilots, but has a love of money and is greedy man.
Also Geneva has one more little secret that she will not tell the crew unless it is under the most direst of circumstances. Luna was also given a huge bribe to sabotage the mining camp. They were going to take the this money and run away to another sector and start a new life. This is a secret that she would be extremely reluctant to share.
Rutland Singleton is the third born son of Baron Singleton. With little likelihood of succeeding the Baron (2 older brothers in front of him), he decided to strike out on his own and seek his own fortune. Pooling some of his money with a friend and his oldest brother(the eventual heir), he put together a mining expedition to a planetoid where a robotic probe had shown some interesting findings - mainly that there was a hot spot where there was Thulium detected.
As the crew is making arrangements to leave - getting supplies, paying dock fee's, and filing a flight plan with the control tower a stranger walks up the crew. He is Venau, an investor with the mining expedition. He is the son of a knight and met Rutland at a finishing school. They ran around together and kept in contact after they left school. When Rutland approached him to invest, he put up a good bit of his hard earned money. The son of a knight has a lot less money than the son of a Baron. Now he is also trying to find out what is up with the expedition, as the loss of money he invested (250,000 credits) will devastate him financially. It is truly almost all the money his has accumulated. So he has two interests - finding his friend, Rutland, and also getting back all or some portion of his money as this was a gamble with almost all of his savings. He became a mercenary after graduating from the academy. He has experience with helicopters and robot repair. The robot repair could come in handy on this expedition.
He heard from a contact at the starport that a ship is leaving shortly for the planetoid. He asks the crew if they would like to double the fee that are getting from Geneva. He will also pay 20,000 credits for a round trip visit. Unlike Geneva he has the full amount. If for some reason the crew cannot or will not take him, then he will make separate arrangements with another ship and will arrive (dice 1-6 days) after the players arrive.
Since he has a financial stake in the operation that amounts to almost all his life's savings he is paranoid of losing any money or damaging any equipment. So if the players go to blow open a door, shoot a robot, or do anything that will damage a robot or building, he is going to protest loudly. Maybe even threaten the players. He himself will not damage anything unless he is danger of harm.
He owns 25% of the claim with Rutland owning 25%. Rutland's oldest brother is Tenggee Singleton (the heir apparent to the baron) who put up 50% of the funds.
By Imperial decree a claim can be set up on any unowned planet or planetoid by putting up 4 lit pylons up to 5 kilometers apart with the company name and registration number on it. Rutland has done this and set up a small mining camp. He leased a lot of the equipment to do this.
The players will probably pass through this system on the way to mine. It has a low population, but is high tech. And if the players don't mind breaking a few laws, there are some high tech weapons and devices to be had. So if the players are lightly armed, then either Venau (if the players took the mercenary with them) or Geneva will suggest that they stop there for a day to two and check to see what is available for this adventure.
Here is a link to a sketch of the mining camp area: Mining Camp
The planetoid has no atmosphere to speak of, the temperature is extremely cold and is close to absolute zero. The surface is pockmarked with craters. Some of the craters do have frozen water/pools of frozen gases (helium, hydrogen, etc) in various quantities in the bottom of them. A crater with hydrogen could be useful as a fuel source or a means of making a makeshift explosive. The surface is rocky with a layer of fine dust. It is pitted with numerous craters. It has little gravity so players with no experience with zero/low gravity will have to be cautious. The gravity is 1/12 that of earth so a player will be able to jump 12 times higher and can stride 12 times longer than normal. Hand to hand combat will be different. Someone who weighs 200 pounds would weigh just 24 pounds on the surface for instance.
As the players near the planetoid from about an hour away(or earlier if they have a player with comm skills) they will begin hearing a message that repeats itself every 5 minutes. In a robotic sort of voice it says, "Humans in Danger here, come help humans now." Then a data transmission with the mining camp coordinates on the planetoid's surface are sent. Any attempts by the players to contact the planetoid are otherwise met with silence.
Then as the players get even closer to the planetoid a burst message from a personal emergency beacon is received. It is a weaker message and seems to be coming from almost the exact same location as the first message. It is a periodic (every minute) SOS signal with no additional information. Experienced space goers will recognize this as a personal emergency beacon. So now there are two separate signals being sent. A person with Comms skills may be able to determine that the beacon message is coming from the wreckage of the Cole Retus - and that it is not the normal ships channel being used but a personal beacon. Roll a 6+ with the person's comm experience as a plus modifier.
Referee: If you want to give the players a hint then roll a 2 diced dice on a 7+ there is a voice recording by Lunar that is part of the second - personal beacon message. "Come help me, bleeding badly, cough cough, entering stasis in the Cole Retus - beware of the virus." If a player has communication or engineering add their skill to the modifier. Of course the message does not indicate if this is a true virus - or computer virus.
So now the players can decide upon their approach to the source of the signals. Do they go directly to the base, overfly first, or land close by? If they brought the mercenary Vanua with them, he will be super cautious. "We don't know if that is the mining camp we are trying to find or not. We can't just barge in the middle of the base. And what if it is the base – but it has been taken over by pirates and this is a trap?"
A close scan of the camp perimeter will show a well worn path made by a general purpose robot from the mining camp. And sure enough the players will observe the robot making his rounds of the perimeter. The robot is doing sentry duty for the complex. If the robot has detected the players (going overhead at close range or landing nearby) then it will halt and go directly to the camp. If they try to communicate with it, the signal will be ignored. If they try to stop it, it will continue on as long as it is unimpeded. If attacked, it will fight back.
As the players scan the base, they will find something more ominous – the wreckage of the supply ship Cole Retus. It is close to the base and one side of the ship appears to be blown apart. A scan will show normal power in the mining camp, and minimal power in the ship. If the ship's scanners can detect life it will detect none in the mining camp, but an anomaly (a person in statis) in the ship.
The pilot of the supply ship was Lunar. And he was paid a generous amount by a stranger to introduce a computer virus into the computer of the mining camp. He was told that he could load the virus and get away - that it would not become active for a week or so. The money was going to be used to start a new life with his wife to be – Geneva. He was told that it would not enact until well after the ship had left. And that it would cause problems with the robots and make the mine unprofitable. And maybe it should have, but the virus worked quickly and overwhelmed the computer with deadly consequences.
The virus was not as benign as indicated. Once the data cube was inserted, the letters 'DHD' flashed briefly on the screen. Lunar realized immediately that it was a very dangerous computer virus - "Die Humans Die." A virus created during the Messanic wars for covert operations on infrastructure. It has been eradicated time and time again only to reappear somewhere else - usually with malicious intent. It infects a computer system and then uses the computer and the systems (or robots) that it controls to kill or maim humans. Robots are not on it's target list. So unless a robot attacks one of it's systems, it will be ignored. The same for non human lifeforms. But anything that is detected as human life is either lured into a trap or outright attacked. It is not the best Artificial Intelligence and communication is a weakness. It will also be very direct in it's attacks - that it is not good at tactics and can be outwitted. Lunar and the co-pilot raced back to the ship and attempted to get away. and the BAC_8b set an explosive charge from the mining camp explosives cache and backed away. It blew out the side of the ship, killing one crewman out right. Lunar and the co-pilot fought off an attack by the BAC_8b Robot initially. But the co-pilot was finally killed and then Lunar was injured and began bleeding badly from a wound to the chest.
He went to the back of the ship where there were some stasis pods that are used to put people into suspended animation. He shot out the control panel for the door to make it harder for anyone - or anything to enter. He then put himself into a pod and went into suspended animation after setting off the personal emergency beacon. He did this as he knew that he could not halt the bleeding and this was his only chance to survive. If the players are able to blast the door to the stasis pods room or devise another means of entry, he will need immediate medical attention or resume bleeding if they attempt to revive him or get him out of the pod. It is obvious that he is injured by the amount of blood in the room and also they can see into the transparent pod and see his wounds.
The pod is removeable, and with the low gravity a single player can move it.
When he entered into suspended animation the robots did not detect any more human life and so broke off the attack. However the AI virus's sole mission is to kill humans. So it is now transmitting the initial signal that the players detected when they approached the planetoid. As the player's ship approaches and is about 5 minutes out, it will try to lure them in with new communication, "Connect to data comm on landing pad here for meaningful data to save humans in danger here." Again it is awkwardly worded, which should give the players a clue that something is not quite right.
It is trying to get the players to link their ships systems to the data comm so that a DHD virus can be sent to the ship's computers and take over their ship as well. If the players do land at the landing pad and hook up to the datacomm, then roll 2 dice each hour. A 4 or less and the DHD virus takes over the ship's computer. roll a 5 or 6 and a ship's system starts acting funny - lights flicker, sensors give false readings, engines go into reset mode, room temperature goes up or down, etc. See chart below. If it is successful at infecting the computer then it will then turn off air, try to close doors on people, open air locks, etc. to kill the players. Roll a 10 or higher and the computer alerts that it is fighting a virus. A player with computer skills can modify the dice roll by adding their skill level to the roll if they are on the ship and on the bridge. But rolling a 2 will always mean that the virus has taken over.
A player with computer skills can always try to remove the virus or shutdown the computer (if they can get to it - or the power panel and turn off power to the computer. That is if the computer has not turned off the door controls and denied access. Then the players will need to explosives/grenades to create a breach. They can try to remove the virus. They get one dice roll per hour and it can be modified by adding the player's computer skill. On a roll of 12 the virus is removed from the players ship.
Banger Arms Corp. 8b - security robot. BAC_8b Used security robot. Lightly armored, is human like in configuration. Uses a laser rifle as primary weapon. In a melee it does twice the damage as a human. It is under the control of the virus. It will be around the control center acting as a reserve and a final defense.
Tactile Automation gpc D1 general purpose robot - not much in way of armor or attack. Used around the central base of the mining camp for housekeeping, errands to the mine. It's attacks and defense are pretty much the same as an average human. The DHD AI is using it as a perimeter guard, it is endlessly walking the edges of the claim. This is the one that the players should have detected upon approach. Once it sights the players or their ship then it will return to base after notifying the DHD AI. It can operate weapons and will attack humans.
The following are all leased robots but are likewise under control of the DHD AI. At this time the AI does not have much use for them. Too big to go indoors, too bulky and slow to do much. They remain in place about the claim - either at the mine or the ore processor. They are idle but can be activated in case of attack.
Grinder - this is the unit that is actually grinding out the ore in the mine. It is heavy duty and large - about as big as a dump truck or bulldozer. It is a tracked unit. If instructed to attack it will attempt to crush or grind up it's opponent. It's is not as fast as a human ( top speed is about walking pace), so it can be out ran. It will process 2 to 4 tons of ore an hour.
Front Loader - This unit loads up ore from mine pit and loads it into the ore haulers, they unload it by the ore processor. It is pretty much the same as the grinder as far as speed and attack.
Ore Haulers - 2 tracked vehicles configured as dump trucks to haul ore to the processing plant. They are faster than the previous two units - they go about as fast as a person can jog. If called up to attack, they will attempt to crush.
A player with computer skills can attempt to remove the virus from the units controllers, it will be removed on a die roll of an 11 or 12 with a plus modifier for each level of computer expertise. Roll once every 4 hours.
A player with mechanical/electrical/engineering skills may be able to figure how to disable or power down a unit. A 10, 11, or 12 will disable with a plus modifier for each level of expertise. Roll once per hour.
If the unit is moving then roll the dice to see if the player is injured. Use dexterity as a plus (or minus modifier. A 10 is a plus 1, 11 is plus 2 and so forth. A low dexterity modifies downward: 5 is a minus 1, 4 minus 2, and so forth. Roll for damage if the player fails to climb onto the unit. A 2 or 3 and there is a major injury, a 4 and there is a minor injury.
1. Follow the instructions from the virus message and go to the landing pad and hookup to the data com. This is the worst scenario. The virus will be injected and has a good likelihood of infecting the ship - turning the ships computer against it's own crew. If infected the ship will turn off oxygen, open air locks, slam doors on people etc. in an effort to kill them.
2. Land next to the wreckage of the Cole Retus. The security robot and the general purpose robot will try to ambush the players. The robot has a laser rifle and explosive charges from the mining supplies. Treat them as hand grenades. The general purpose robot has an anti-aircraft missile on his back and a double barrel shotgun. They will try to take out as many humans as possible by acting friendly at first. "We will assist human now." If this does not work then they will attack when they feel that they have an advantage. The missile will be used against the ship to cripple it. But the robots will try to defend the base if they are losing.
The AI will call on the other mining robots to be reinforcements once fighting begins. They will be called upon to defend the base or attack. This depends if the AI is winning or losing. Roll one dice every 15 minutes. On a roll of 2, one of the above robots closes to within 200 yards, on a roll of 1, 2 of the above robots closes to within 200 yards.
3. Land some distance from the base and approach it - hopefully stealthily. If the players fly by high enough and then approach by staying close the planets surface, then they can land undetected. Or at least the AI won't know their exact position. This will give advantage to the players. The general purpose robot is patrolling at a walking pace. So after he passes there is plenty of time to cross the boundary and explore inside the base. If they encounter a mining robot (roll 2 dice every 15 minutes, on a 4 or less a mining robot is close by; do a second roll to determine who see's who first.) Then it will alert the AI if it detects the humans. See number 2 above to see how the AI will try to ambush the humans and if that does not work then it will attack.
The patrolling robot will see the players footprints in the dust unless the players have take some extra precautions to cover them. So it will alert the AI and return to base.
The security robot is at the base. But once alerted it will prepare to defend the base. It will stay close to the base but from time to time actively patrol close to the base - watching for any attacks.
The life support has been turned off and the air evacuated. The base is cold and empty. Bodies that are found are frozen solid. Power is still on and the players can close doors and turn on life support to heat up and pump air into each pod section. But if the computer is still in control of the base, it will attempt to lock them inside a pod and evacuate the air. Or find some other way to harm the players once it has them away from their ship.
The base is 5 pods that are part of a standard set made by Ying Industries for mining/exploration/etc. The players can disable the virus by trying to access a console and having someone with computer skills attempt to disable it. They get one die roll per hour and it can be modified by adding the player's computer skill. On a roll of 12 the virus is removed.
Alternatively someone with electronics can attempt to power down the computer. On a roll of 10+ they are successful with their skill level as a die roll modifier. However the computer will have a battery backup for (roll 2 dice) hours. So the players will have to wait for the internal batteries to finally power it off. Or alternately find the back up battery and disconnect/destroy it.
Of course they can always just blast the computer and destroy it completely. There is a back up - but if any DHD infected robots are still around they will try to access the data comm ports around the central base and infect it.
If the computer at the base is disabled or no longer infected, any remaining robots infected with the virus will now act independently. They will attempt to retake the base and/or kill anyone they come across. Any players detected in the open could be targeted. The grinder could grind a hole in the base camp or the ship. Roll 1 dice for the number of hours it takes to do this. The other robots would only be able to ram. Repeated ramming could damage the outer shell of either the base camp or the ship. And ships components could be damaged.
The ship is unflyable and it's only future is for salvage. A huge hole has been blown in the side of the ship. It is about 100m away from the base. The base has some marks from the explosion, but it was not compromised. A body in a space suit is sprawled on the ground close by the nose of the ship. It is the body of the co-pilot, he was shot with a laser as he tried to run away.
It still has auxiliary power. The turret has been damaged so it will take repair work but it can be used in a pinch by the players. It will take 2 dice hours to repair minus the mechanic skill of the player repairing the turret. Hull breached, 50% of hyrdogen fuel has leaked out onto the surface. Computer is inoperable. Most sensors do operate, so a player with engineering skills can get readings after (2 dice) minutes minus engineering skills of player doing the repair.
In the hold the players will find a motorcycle stowed. It is electric and is used for short trips on planets. It is usable on the planetoid.
Scattered about the ship is a hand grenade, a grenade launcher with 5 shots, and a sword. Referee can decide if these are in the crews quarters, cockpit, or elsewhere.
Of course if Venau is with the players, he will try to make the statement that the salvage rights to the ship and any contents are his since it is on the mining claim. Although the leasing company might dispute this...
Finally there is the stasis pod with Luna in the back of the ship. The emergency beacon is next to the pod. He shot out the controls to the door before entering the unit. So the door will need to be breached. Or someone with electrical skills might be able to figure out how to open the door. Roll a 8 or higher ( plus for the players electrical skills.)
The pod is hooked up to the ship, but it can be moved. There is blood in the room and it is obvious from looking into the pod that he is badly wounded. The players can activate the pod and revive him. But he will lose 1 dice damage every hour unless a player has medical skills. If a player has medical skills he will gain in strength over the next week.
If Venau is with the group, he will want Luna revived so that they can find out what happened. "We have to find out what happened so that we be sure it won't happen to us. " But if Geneva is with the group, she will campaign to keep him in the pod until they get to a planet with adequate medical facilities.
On the other hand, the pod is portable. So they can move it over to their ship and hook it to power and keep him in stasis. Then take him back to more civilized place where he can get hospital care.
If Luna is revived then he will admit to what happened - that he is the one that introduced the virus. That a man back at the space port offered him 100,000 credits to load a virus and that he had been told that virus would just interrupt mining operations, not lead to everyone death's. If Venau hears of this he will fly into a rage. Without intervention, he will attack Luna.
Referee's discretion - a player with persuasion, street-wise, or intimidation might be able to intervene and influence the situation between Venau and Luna by adding their skill level to the dice roll. Also offers of money as compensation could have an influence as well.
Close by the Mining camp are the two storage containers. They are pretty much just like modern day shipping containers, neither is locked.
There is about 2 dice X 10 pounds of plastic explosive and 2 dice primers/timers at the back of one of the containers. The other contains refined ore that was processed while the mine was operating. Roll 2 dice and times it by 100 to get the pounds of Thulium ore. These are stored in 50 pound ingots.
They probably won't get the full 1500 market price, but the players can get about ⅔ of that from the right buyer. Of course if Venau is with them, then he will legitimately claim the ore as his. Even though there are other investors, he just wants to at least get his 250,000 credits back from his original investment - so he will do what he can to take care of himself.
Now if the players desire and if the mining robots and processing equipment are operational and not damaged then it is possible for them to operate the mine. If Venau is with them then they will need to negotiate some sort of deal. Otherwise they can just operate the mine and then take off.
If they run the mine with all equipment roll 2 dice for daily output in pounds. If Robots are damaged then this will impact production. So reduce output accordingly. If the grinder is broken, then the players will have to use plastic explosives to break up the rock so that the loader can load into the trucks and transport to the ore extractor. If the loader is broken the players and/or robots will have to throw rocks into the trucks by hand.
The Cole Retus is part of a fleet of ships that supply mining operations, colonies, etc. When their ship is overdue, then a ship will be sent to investigate. So after the players get on the planet and after the first days encounter, wait another day and then start rolling two dice once per day. On a 2 or 3, a ship will arrive in system. The ships computer will alert the players via their comms if they are not on the ship - providing their long range radar is operating. If the mining camp camp sensors are operational they will alert when the ship is about 6 hours away if someone is in the command pod. Add a players communication skill level to the hours away if a person in the central pod has that skill.
Ships can be found at: http://www.ace-dog.co.uk/Traveller/Shipyard/index.htm
If a tug is rolled it will have 5 security personnel on board.
The ship name will be Cole Nioten
If the players have not taken Venau with them, he will be on this ship.
The players can establish communication. The ship will want to know what the situation is and if the beacon(s) are still transmitting (ie players did not turn them off) they will ask - what is wrong at the base or what is up with the personal beacon. Assuming that the virus has been eradicated and all robots are under the players control the following will occur:
The ship will be wary and will approach cautiously. Upon seeing the blown up ship they will accuse the players of attacking it - calling them pirates. Their story sound preposterous.
Roll dice for captains reaction - depending on players skill of persuasion or streetwise to increase the dice roll or how persuasive their argument is.
If the players have stripped anything from the Cole Retus, then that will sour the captain on them. Of course, he will want everything returned. If the ship rolled up was a tug, then they will have some spare parts - jump drive, maneuver drive, etc. So they may sell same to the players if they have any credits. Alternatively, they can offer the players a ride back if their ship has problems.
Venau will be on the ship if the players did not take him in the first place. He will want anything from the mining camp that the players took returned. He will be saddened by the death of his friend Rutland and will still want revenge if Luna has been revived and he is able to find out that Luna was the one who released the virus. Check the prior table to guage the scope of his reactions.
Finally if the players have already left and the company ship arrives in system then there is a chance that a warrant could be put out for the ship and crew. Accusing them of robbing and pillaging the mining camp. Cameras on the mining camp captured the landing of the players ship and got the id number.
Well the next part would be the players leaving. Providing that they aren't wanted by anyone ( no one reported anything to authorities) they can return to Rizone if they like. The next part of this - who wanted the virus planted that caused this disaster?
The person who hired Luna is on Rizone - was he hired by a mining consortium to sabotage the mine so that they can keep the price of rare metals high? Was he someone that Rutland wronged in the past and this was his way getting revenge? Was he hired by the Baron's 2nd son who is eliminating the older brother and the younger brother so that only he is left as heir??? These are just a few of story lines that can be pursued as a follow up adventure.