Like Stealing Candy From A Little Baby... with guns

by Jens-Arthur Leirbakk

The Pitch

This scenario is meant as a fairly simple, introductory scenario.

Introductory in that there's a fair amount of railroading into the situation which is intended as the evening's entertainment, and fairly simple as it is well suited for about four fairly average 2nd level characters or 3rd level characters, with a good spread of skills. The characters should all be members of NEO, to avoid some retooling of this scenario. I've found that a good 1st level to 2nd level scenario is to break up from whatever rut one has found oneself in, and enlist as a member of NEO...

Although the number of adversaries in this scenario is quite large, the characters should manage to ambush them in ones and twos - if they are clever. If they aren't, they might get themselves enmeshed in a multiple-way firefight. Not to mention that the opposition might get smart - and subsequently nasty.

RAM has developed a type of stealth technology that not only is far cheaper than the types currently available, but is fairly easy to mass produce. The downside of it all is that the stealth technology is far from being as effective as the technology in, say, a RAM Krait-class fighter - but any edge on your side in a fight is better than no edge.

A NEO mole, Ron Holzberger, has alerted NEO to one of the new class of ships that features this technology. Not only that, but he has also managed to get himself transferred aboard this ship. And, like any good rogue, he has plans to steal the ship. For the benefit of NEO, of course. Now, if he only could get a little help...

This is where the party enters the picture, of course. Their commanding officer in NEO puts this case in the party's proverbial lap, and expects results. The problem with all this is that in order to get on the ship, the party needs to be RAM prisoners.

Once on board the ship, they need to use their own ingenuity and a little undercover help in order to first get free from the ship's brig, and then to take over the ship. And, of course, between them being in the brig and them being masters of the ship, there's only one small thing. The crew of the ship. But why get hung up on details?

After the scenario is over, there are several options to how this storyline can be continued. If the characters simply deliver the ship to NEO, and it sort of "disappears" (a habit common to Plot Devices), this scenario has been little more than a one night stand. Although some new technology was introduced to the BR universe, it didn't really have any impact, and is unlikely to be encountered in future scenarios. Of course, this "another mission" is connected to the ship in some way. For instance, the ship might contain the coordinates to some secret ship-building plant in the Belt where this ship was designed. It might contain the coordinates to a bottle in a Trojan which was visited before the ship came to Luna. Information found in the ship, or components of the stealth system, may be indicative of how to defeat this type of stealth technology. The party may be charged with finding (and getting the cooperation of) some mad scientist or other. The party may even be charged with finding (and destroying or taking over) other ships of this class. Or the party may be charged with destroying factories or other installations producing components to the stealth system. If one remembers correctly, the scenario given as an example in the boxed set features a shipjacking, and subsequent activation of a rogue DP bent on regaining control of the ship. That scenario may, with a little work, dovetail nicely with this scenario.
The characters are gathered in some appropriate NEO stronghold, like Salvation III. Having chatted together, or being reunited with either characters hurt in the previous adventure, or having gotten acquainted with newly assigned soldiers, they are at last called in to their commanding officer.

Once the party has settled down in the conference room, their commanding officer dims the lights in the room slightly, and triggers a program. A holo of a fairly normal ship materializes over the officer's desk (reminiscent of the Luna Scout Cruiser picture in the boxed set), and starts rotating.

This is a schematic depicting a new ship type from RAM, the Defiant-class scout cruiser. The Defiant-class cruisers are testbeds for a new technological breakthrough - cheap and easily mass-produced stealth technology for larger ship types than the infamous Krait fighter I'm sure you are familiar with.

Unfortunately, we at NEO have no samples of this technology. This, however, is a situation that we hope can be remedied - and remedied fairly soon. This is where you lot enter the picture.

We have managed to place a NEO agent aboard one of these ships, namely the Luminous 3. The Luminous 3 is scheduled to transport some RAM prisoners from Luna to Mars three days from now. You are to be those RAM prisoners.

The way I ran this scenario, was fairly freeform. I'll just give you the bare essentials in how to do this scenario, as it basically is just a situation to resolve, and not a scenario with all sorts of strange plot twists.

The RAM prison on Luna should be described fairly sketchily. NEO agents disguised as RAM soldiers bluff their way into the prison, and place the "stinking terrorists" (namely, the player characters) into the prison cells. A NEO computer hacker then changes the names of the prisoners that are to be transferred by the Luminous 3 to the (probably assumed) names of the NEO agents.

The prison is fairly difficult to escape from, with magnetic-lock arm and legbands. This means that the prisoners can, with the flick of a switch, be locked down to the electromagnetic rail, with barely any chance of getting free (incredible strength feats might do it inside the prison).

The magnalocks are wrist and ankle bands of an insanely strong metal alloy, fitted and then welded in place around the wrists and ankles of a prisoner. The lock system is quite simple - run an electric current through something to generate a powerful, localized magnetic field, and the bands will "lock" themselves magnetically to the rail (or whatever) with the current. Think magnets locked to each other.

First glimpse of the Luminous 3
After a couple of days (difficult to tell the exact time without a chronometer when you're in a RAM prison on Luna, for crying out loud), soldiers come to get the prisoners (player characters). They're magnalocked to a long steel coil, and are marched out to the landing bay where the Luminous 3 has landed.

The Luminous 3 is of a fairly common, simple design, but is better armed than most, fulfilling its role as something between fighters and cruisers - a light middle-weight, so to speak. However, its hull looks a bit strange - as if the entire ship was covered with an inch-thick, semi-transparent plastic material of some sort, slightly blurring the clear red hull, and making the RAM logo somewhat indistinct.

Thrown in the brig
The player characters are then thrown into the brig of the ship. The entire floor, ceiling and walls are lined up with the magnalock system that the player characters must be depressingly familiar with now. Otherwise, the brig is bare except for a few cots to sleep on, cots that can be telescopically extended from the walls. The glare of the brig is always constant - no easy way to keep track of time here, either.

The routines of the brig
The characters are magnalocked every time they get food. Play this up for what it is worth. If they try the good, old "I'm sick, really really sick", then they're magnalocked down, and someone comes in to see to the character. They'll get fairly angry when the player character isn't sick, and keep the magnalocks on for a few hours. Otherwise, whenever anything happens, the first reaction of the guards when and if they discover what's going on, is to magnalock the brig, and then come in and check the situation.

There are also always two guards on guard outside the brig, periodically checking the surveillance cameras inside the brig to see if something fishy's going on. If the characters try something, and don't disguise it properly, the guards know automatically that there's something going on. Otherwise, the guards have to roll against their Notice to see something's going on.

Breaking the magnalock
Basically, you can't. You'll have to do an Impossible Strength check each round to defeat the magnetic lock. (Impossible Strength check - Strength score is basic percentile chance of doing that, Impossible means that you're rolling against one-fourth of your Strength score - each round!) The players should think that their newly-generated player characters are set up, and that the NEO agent has been discovered.

The chance to get out
After a few days under weigh (remember that the brig will then be a zero-gee environment, unless you choose to be merciful and decide that they're still accelerating), the player characters are fed like they usually are, three times per day. The difference is that this time, one of the player characters get a little extra "seasoning" in his oatmeal-gruel - a little, rubberized container with a nozzle, marked "metal-eater". (Have to spell it out to them, eh?)

A few Dex rolls later (or Stealth, Sleight of Hand, Acting, or whatever skill the character tries to use to hide the little extra he got from the guards), the meal is over, and they are locked down again so that the gruel bowls can be removed. (It is suggested that the characters experiment a little with the metal-eating acid before they do anything rash.)

The metal-eater is a strong acid that'll eat through the wrist and ankle bands in about a minute or so. It is also quite painful to get on bare skin, and will usually stick to what it has been applied on (remember, you're in a zero-gee environment, and want acids to stay put - thus, you'll have to make them into some sort of glue-like gel or something similar). When you describe the consistency of the metal-eater, think super-glue.

After experimenting a bit with the metal-eater, it is quite clear that it won't free all of the characters. There are only seventeen applications of the stuff in the little flask, and although seventeen might seem like a lot, remember that you need two applications per band to remove a section of the band so that you can get your hand free. Thus, there is enough metal-eater to completely free two characters, with a little extra.

One application weakens the band enough that one can try to break free on an Average Strength check (straight percentiles), provided the brig is magnalocked (one need the extra leverage the lock produces to try and bend free of the band). This means that the group may decide to try and free more than two of their number, but that they'll have to gamble on getting loose from a magnalocked position. This is hazardous, but if they decide to do so, let them. They are the players, not you. You merely adjucate the results of their actions.

Overpowering the guards
After researching what the metal-eater can and cannot do, the player characters should try to stage some sort of diversion, so that they can get loose. The two guards will respond to any sort of diversion with locking down the brig, and may be in for a surprise when they go into the brig to sort things out. Hopefully, the characters will defeat the guards - if not, bring in Ron to shoot one of the guards (in the back, of course) to demonstrate he's on NEO's side.

Taking over the ship
Basically, the characters have to get control of the ship by either killing or incapacitating all RAM-loyal characters. This is made more difficult by the fact that the ship has a self-destruct mechanism as well, so the first priority of the characters should be to take the bridge.

The bridge is manned by one of the helmsmen, and usually the captain and a smattering of other RAM soldiers. Decide on a mix to challenge the characters, but a mix which they have a chance to defeat (remember the shortage of equipment unless the characters can defeat some equipment crates in the cargo hold - if they think of it!). When the players get passive, hit their characters with an ambush of a few RAM soldiers. As long as the player characters are active, allow them to get the drop on the RAM soldiers. Remember, the action should be fast, furious, and a bit heroical, with daring assaults, madcap zero-gee jumps through corridors, and perhaps a bit of smoke and explosions as well.

In the end the characters probably gets control of a slightly-damaged Luminous 3, and can plot a course to Salvation III or wherever they like - and are ready for further derrring-do in the XXVc universe.

Defiant-class scout cruiser, Luminous 3

Hull16040 tons - 80' long, 20' wide
Sensors40 +4 (new)AC 6 (military)
Controls40 +4 (new)AC Defense -2
Life Support80Reaction Bonus -1
Fuel120Speed 4
Engine120 +12 (new)Stealth Cloak: -2 AC when moving
Layout: Control - Turrets - Crew - Airlock - Crew - Cargo (10tns)/Brig - Reactor
Weapons:RngShotsDamageHit BonusRl. CostRl. Wgt
Missile Mount6440+0300400
Beam Laser6-10+1--
Beam Laser6-10+1--
Pumped Laser4-20+0--
Total Crew: 14
Crew Roster:
Captain Jones, XO Warshawski, Helmsman Dobrena, Helmsman Zlotskij, Sgt. Xarton, Private Forsythe, Private Gorlen, Private Dubois, Private Sininga, Private Illusin, Private Annas, Private Koblentz, Private Trakny, Private Holzberger
Misc Equipment aboard the Luminous 3:
2 pairs of Swim Fins, Inertial Compass, 2 Macroglasses, 2 Tech Tools, Compdex, 2 Gillmask, Powerpack Charger Unit, Rocket Motor Tools, Scrambler, 7 Pressure Tents, 3 Plasmatorch, Bioscanner (Worker, Terran, Martian, Terrine), Tech Scanner (basic), Atomic Generator, Autosurgery, Drug Fabricator, 2 Camplight, 3 Breather Helmets, 9 Backpacks, 13 Messkit, 9 Shovels, 4 Carryalls, 13 Personal Radios, 13 Infrared Goggles, 4530 creds (total on the ship), 10 Laser Rifles, 40 power packs for Laser Rifles, case of 11 stun grenades, personal clothes and trinkets, 20 disposable prisoner overalls.
Captain Jones - 2nd level Rocketjock/1st level Rogue, Martian Male XO Warshawski - 3rd level Rogue, Mercurian Female Helmsman Dobrena, Zlotskij - 2nd level Rocketjock, Martian Male Sgt. Xarton - 2nd level Warrior, Terran Female 8 Privates - 1st level Warrior, Terran/Martian Males
Private Ronald "Ron" Holzberger, 4th level Rogue, Martian Male