Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dagger at Efate - Amber Zone Reviews # 12

Amber Zone: A Dagger at Efate, by John Lewis from JTAS #8
Check out the series introduction here.

Now imagine this displacing 800 displacement tons. That's a big dagger!

Location: Efate (Spinward Marches 1705)
Patron: The Imperial Navy, using wartime regs to compel the PCs to render assistance.

Mission: There is a starship approaching the planet that appears to be on a collision course with the planet, and specifically Imperial forces stationed there. The PCs must board the ship and determine the situation. If the ship is a threat, the PCs must neutralize the threat.

Complications: The ship's computer will counter attempts to dock with the ship. The controls have been cleverly locked onto the present course. They have eight hours only to change the ship's course. There is something very nasty hidden aboard the ship.

Payoff: Possibly none other than recognition for having rendered service to the Imperium. Ambitious PCs might leverage a successful and minimal-damage result into a contract as military auxiliaries. Cash remuneration seems unlikely in this scenario.

Strong Points: This is another solid problem-solving scenario, which will require some cleverness on the part of the players. There are a number of possible ways for the PCs to avert this disaster; from brute force to finesse. The ticking clock aspect keeps the tension up, so the PCs can't be too indecisive. Even if the main target is missed, a ship collision with the planet's surface is likely to cause a lot of damage, so half measures won't do.
Weak Points: The referee had better drop some hints so that the PCs search the ship thoroughly, or the nasty surprise will take them out, unawares. That is, in my mind, unfair to do to players.

What I'd change: If the PCs are very familiar with the Broadsword-class, (the assumed class of ship in the AZ) the referee can substitute any other kind of ship to change the game. If it seems they are being too clever, maybe there are some robotic sentries aboard, or the ship's automated defenses activate to hamper their intervention. At the last, there might be a suicidal agent aboard, secretly undoing whatever the PCs try!

In My Traveller Universe: This one I would place on Hudson, a part of the Talaveran Empire. I would alter the backstory to resemble the political infighting and separatism within the Empire: Restorationists from Bishor have taken a major gamble on this strike giving them the political leverage to wrest Bishor from Imperial control and return it to the supposed heirs of the planet's hereditary rulers. 

As this mission takes place in space, maps are not of the essence, except for deck plans of the Broadsword or whatever ship is used. These are available from numerous published sources, like JTAS #8 or CT Adventure #7. For the referee who wants to have a lot of surprises, the best bet is to design a custom ship, and create the deckplans yourself.

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