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Adventure Seeds for Travellers’ Aid Society Characters

This was a featured article in the January/February 2018 issue.

Here are some adventure seeds based around TAS functions that could involve either PCs who are former TAS employees or NPCs who are current or former TAS employees; you can select from the seeds below or roll 1D6 to determine scenario and then roll 1D6 to determine its plot twist.

Each scenario is aimed at TAS characters assigned to a different division of the TAS, as indicated in parentheses, but recall that TAS characters can transfer between divisions, so any TAS character with experience in that division will likely be suitable for the seed.

I. Land Rush (Library & Archives)

Rumor has it TAS intends to lower a nearby system’s zone status from Red to Amber, thereby allowing trade with that system to begin, but no one is sure which system. The party will have to use their TAS connections to ferret out the truth before it is made public, and then plan to arrive with trade goods ahead of all competitors. Doing so could lead to huge profits by introducing off-world and higher tech goods to previously interdicted peoples.  

Possible Direction to Take This Scenario

  1. Surprise! – While in PCs are in jumpspace, the Interdiction revocation designation was either rescinded or never sent; the PCs exit jumpspace into a system still guarded by the Imperial Navy and unhappy with those who attempt to breach the Red Zone. Fight or Flight, anyone?!
  2. Betrayal – the party’s TAS contact is caught by the authorities and turns against the party before they can even leave system with their ship full of trade goods. Might be a good time for a running gun battle – in space! – to the 100 diameter limit.
  3. Bad info – the party arrives in-system but the natives are far more sophisticated and technologically advanced than expected; have fun unloading those antiques, spaceman!
  4. Mongo loves you – the natives are barbarians who practice something akin to a cargo cult (thanks, Scouts!), and the PCs are now their new gods. Good luck with “first contact.”
  5. Race to the Finish – the party’s ship isn’t the only—or even the first—to exit jumpspace, and 1D6-3 other free traders or the like fly and fight to be the first to land on the planet, make contact and sell their goods to the natives.
  6. That was easy! – the party’s ship is “first-in” and is able to sell their good for obscene profits way ahead of all competitors.

II. Evacuate! (Lodgings)

The PCs and their ship are hired to rescue the staff from a TAS hostel – and any TAS members who might be present and in need of transport – on a nearby world that has descended into chaos due to a global pandemic.

Possible Direction to Take This Scenario

  1. Access Denied – the SPA denied the PC permission to land because the situation is too dangerous. They must now find another way to make contact with the TAS staff and get them off-world alive ASAP.
  2. Nobody’s Home – upon arrival, the looted, burnt-out wreck of the hostel is empty of everyone, living or dead. Somehow the PCs must find the TAS staff amid a terrible and terrifying urban landscape or risk forfeiting 90% of their fees; but if they stay too long, the PCs risk forfeiting their lives!
  3. To the Last – the devoted TAS staff refuses to evacuate, choosing instead to defend their hostel against rampaging marauders. The PCs must make a difficult choice – stand and fight, or somehow compel their would-be rescuees to bug out before their luck runs out.
  4. Not So Fast – the TAS staff agrees to evacuate, but just as the PCs are ready to depart the starport is overrun by legions of terrified refugees similarly seeking safe passage off-world. Now the party must flee headlong to the safety of their ship and somehow liftoff without either leaving anyone behind or taking onboard more people than the ship can safely transport – if they are allowed to crew the ship at all!
  5. I Feel Fine – after safely getting off-planet and once in jumpspace, one of the TAS Aides rapidly begins to show signs of being infected with the pandemic. What should the PCs do to protect themselves, the ship and their passengers?
  6. What Pandemic? – The PCs arrive to find reports of a global pandemic have been vastly exaggerated – or have they?

III. Adventures in Babysitting (Marketing & Promotion)

The PCs and their ship have been hired as charter for a Junior Explorers outing with their TAS chaperone to a nearby world to observe some sort of exotic (an only mildly dangerous) animal species in its natural habitat.

Possible Direction to Take This Scenario

  1. Jump sickness! – Almost all the darlings become violently during their exposure to Jumpspace. Does the crew have the skills, time, technology and temperament to save their lives and avoid the worst field trip ever?
  2. Curiosity Kills – a few of the more precocious Junior Explorers have found their way into the engineering spaces and have passed the time pressing buttons, throwing switches, etc. and have someone done something very bad to the ship. The crew needs to reverse these negative effects before the situation becomes critically terminal!
  3. Lost – at their destination, a few of the less accomplished Junior Explorers have gotten separated from the group and is now lost in the wilderness. The PCs will need to find them before the only mildly dangerous exotic species they came to observe does.
  4. Captured – the entire party or perhaps just dependent minors have been captured by someone (natives, for breakfast? Kidnappers, for ransom? etc.) and now it is up to the PCs to find a way out of this mess.
  5. Hunted – the only mildly dangerous animal has either evolved or was grossly understood, and now the PCs are the last stand between the Junior Explorers and a fierce and capable eating-machine.
  6. Best Job Ever – the PCs and their charges have a great time until the trip home, when the (fill in the blank) attack the ship in space and board it. Snapshot meets slapstick as the Junior Explorers help the PCs defend the ship with nothing but improvised non-lethal weapons and moxie!

IV. Worst. Deal. Ever. (Membership & Benefits)

The PCs are hired by the local TAS Regional Manager to investigate a recent spate of highly-sophisticated counterfeit High Passages that are being sold on the secondary market to unsuspecting dupes at deep discounts, so deep even the most circumspect can’t help but buy them. Unfortunately, these fake High Passages are branded as TAS-issued, and everyone – including the local authorities – are looking to TAS to clean up this problem. Meanwhile, no one is honoring anything TAS-related, clogging the starport with disgruntled and increasingly desperate passengers seeking transport off-world. The PCs must find the counterfeiter(s) and bring them to justice, but even more importantly they must find the counterfeiting equipment to ensure no else can put them to nefarious use.

Possible Direction to Take This Scenario

  1. Escape! – the PCs get a lead on the counterfeiter, who has fled out-system, leaving a trail of bad High Passages in his wake. The PCs will need to figure how to arrive at his next destination, but only after he has departed for it.
  2. Collared – the PCs find the counterfeiter, but he only sells and does not make the fakes. The true counterfeiter is a few systems away, and with enough coercion the seller can lead them there.
  3. Sorry – the PCs find the counterfeiter selling High Passages on the street, and he then leads them on wild chase through an urban landscape only to be struck and killed by an ice-cream truck. The PCs must then determine from items on his possession where the counterfeiting equipment is located – before anyone else can steal it away from them.
  4. Small Timer – the PCs track the counterfeiter, who is a small time but incredibly gifted counterfeiting artist. Perhaps someone possessing such creative license would put their talents to better use working with the PCs rather than sitting inside a jail cell?
  5. Greater Aspirations – the counterfeit High Passages are just the start, as the PCs are to find out. Tracking the counterfeiter to his hideout, the PCs learn that counterfeiting Imperial currency is the next step up for this operation. Unfortunately this discovery comes just seconds before the PCs are confronted by a significant number of bad guys, all armed and ready to ensure their crimes go unpunished.
  6. Inside Job – the High Passages aren’t counterfeit but real High Passages that suffered a printing error. TAS ordered them destroyed, but someone intercepted the recall order, collected as many of the misprinted Passages as possible, and then and began selling them instead. The TAS Regional Manager genuinely believes them to be fakes because he is unaware of the misprinting. The PCs must look within the local TAS operation to determine who has the means, motive and opportunity to turn a minor mistake into a major felony.

V. Breaking (In) News (News & Information)

The PCs are contacted by an old friend – a moderately well-known but very well respected TNS reporter who needs their help cracking open his investigation into megacorporate corruption resulting in something nasty happening to large numbers of innocent sophonts. The patron needs their help breaking into the megacorp’s HQ office tower to retrieve evidence of their malfeasance.

Possible Direction to Take This Scenario

  1. Goose Chase – the patron is barking up the wrong tree, his allegations of wrongdoing by the megacorporation are wholly unfounded and no evidence can be found because none exists. But of course, this is only determined after the PCs are deep inside the office tower, playing cat and mouse with the soon-to-be-alerted security force.
  2. Planted – the break-in is a cover for the patron to allegedly retrieve fake evidence he has manufactured. Once published/broadcast, the fake evidence will be considered by many as real news, thereby hurting the people who run and the profits of the megacorp.
  3. Don’t Rock the (X-)Boat – after successfully retrieving truly damning evidence, the TNS is reluctant to publish/broadcast the story. What can the PCs and patron do to make the truth inescapable?
  4. The MegaCorp Strikes Back – the TNS runs the damaging story, but the megacorp isn’t taking it lying down; they kidnap the patron and intend to coerce a retraction and apology from him, ideally before he expires. The PCs must rescue the patron before he recants his story.
  5. Worth 1000 Words – TNS publishes the story, but no one cares. The patron then employs the PCs to visit a nearby system to document and broadcast how the megacorp’s runaway greed and exploitative practices are severely hurting the natives. But they aren’t the only tourists – a megacorp hit squad intends to silence the patron and his assistants forever.
  6. Stowaway – returning from the planet the megacorporation has irreparably damaged with toxic waste, the PCs ship is carrying one more lifeform than expected. How will this stowaway interact with its unknowing hosts, and can the PCs purge the unwanted intruder before their new-found truth can be told?

VI. Here Be Dragons (Tours & Expeditions)

The PCs and their ship have been hired as charter for a small and budget-conscious group of mid-market TAS members and their Guide who are on safari to a nearby world to capture some sort of exotic (a slightly more dangerous) animal species.

Possible Direction to Take This Scenario

Its Adorable! – the quarry is so obscenely cute the hunters can’t bring themselves to shoot it. Perhaps they can just cuddle up close to it for a few images? Once within striking distance, however, the animal will drop its psionic defenses and reveal its fearful symmetry, red in tooth and claw.

Need a bigger ship’s boat – the quarry is far more clever and dangerous than anticipated, precipitating the need for the PCs to fight for their lives and the lives of their big game hunters.

Orphaned – the hunters have mistakenly (and illegally) killed a female of the species, and a mother to boot. Now to tiny examples of the species are orphaned – and hungry. The PCs need to help make this right, and that will likely involve some convoluted plan to keep the babies alive and transport them to someone who can take care of them.

More dangerous prey – the quarry is the meal of choice of another even more deadly species. Just as the hunters are about to bag their game it becomes a meal for another predator. Unfortunately, that predator catches wind of the hunting party, and decides it wants to expand its palate.

The Most Dangerous Game – the hunting party crosses paths with a non-TAS organized safari, and that party decides that hunting people would be more fun than hunting game. The PCs and hunters are captured, disarmed, striped of their dignity and told to run to a distant mountaintop. After a 30 minute head start they will be hunted and shot to death, but anyone who makes it to the summit alive will be released (sure they will...)

Success – the safari goes as planned, and instead of killing their game the hunters bring a live specimen back with them for donation to their local zoo. And then, while in jumpspace, it manages to escape its cage and rampage throughout the PC’s ship.