This article originally appeared in Issue #010 of the downloadable PDF magazine.
Equipment required: none.
Setting: any Agricultural world with government type B.
The adventurers find themselves at odds with a petty warlord’s homebrew eugenics program while rescuing a diplomat’s fiancée.
Years ago, the popular planetary ruler died and was succeeded by his much less-beloved nephew. The new ruler has proven to be an inept leader; the initial support he enjoyed has evaporated. As he loses his grip on government and society, he has relied on ever-harsher measures to regain it. This in turn has kindled vigorous armed rebellion. Worse, the rebels are becoming factionalized, as commanders involve themselves in various succession wars and intrigues. The populace, caught in the middle, flock to the protection of one strongman or another. The resulting social instability in turn has prompted the IISS to consider classifying the planet as an Amber Zone.
The PCs are summoned to the home of an Imperial baronet. The baronet has recently become engaged to the daughter of a district leader friendly to Imperial interests. The girl’s father has given the couple his blessing, and the baronet wants to spend time with his intended to discuss wedding plans. Unfortunately, the area in which she lives has seen increased rebel activity; the baronet will pay the PCs Cr2000 each as escort and discreet security while he is there. If the planet has a high Law Level, the baronet will arrange for the group to receive special dispensation concerning what weapons they are allowed to carry; each PC will be given documents effectively subtracting 3 from the local Law Level as long as the team travels with the baronet. The documents are subject to inspection by law enforcement upon request.
The fiancée lives in a rural compound 18 kilometers west of the starport. The baronet can provide transportation, but will not object if the team prefers to do so instead. He makes it clear to the visitors that they may make whatever security plans they wish, so long as the couple are not disturbed.
The trip to the house is uneventful; the baronet and his intended—a pretty dark-skinned young woman dressed in traditional local garb—soon leave with a picnic basket for a lightly-wooded glade beside a stream, a ten-minute walk from the compound.
Thirty minutes later, sounds of gunfire will come from the direction of the compound. Almost simultaneously, two battered pickup trucks roar along the stream headed toward the picnicking couple. Each truck has been outfitted for off-road travel and has improvised armor bolted to the chassis (equivalent to twice Combat Armor rating; the armor does not protect occupants unless they crouch down out of sight.) One truck is armed with a machine gun in an open pintle mount (similar to an M60). This truck carries five men of which one is the gunner. The other truck carries six men. Each man is dressed in a hodgepodge of civilian and military clothing and carries an automatic rifle.
The interlopers seem intent on kidnapping the girl. Five gunmen will leap out of the trucks and try to grab her while their companions keep vigil. Any interference will be met with gunfire. The hapless young woman will be unceremoniously tossed into one of the trucks as they speed away, covered by a hail of gunfire.
The baronet will be beside himself and will offer the PCs an additional Cr25000 each if they will find and rescue his love.
A similar group of gunmen meanwhile attacked the compound, abducting several of the fiancée’s male relatives, including her younger brother. There were no serious injuries or damage. Tire tracks from the vehicles are easily seen in the dirt.
The gunmen are members of a rebel faction that has been abducting young men and women on orders from their leader, a disgraced former planetary army colonel named Woluq. Woluq has a reputation for ruthlessness (and insanity). He is conscripting young men into his rebel army, now about a thousand strong. He is using the young women for a mad homebrew eugenics program; he intends not only to seize power, but also to perpetuate his rule through a line of “supermen”. To that end, he has carefully selected and has been kidnapping women he deems suitable in the region, intending to breed them with someone he considers an ideal of strength and intelligence: himself. The supposed super-children from these unions will form the core of a “master race”.
To aid in the mad plan, Woluq’s army has seized several locations around the district to use as processing stations for captured women and training camps for conscripts. One such place (and the one the tire tracks lead to) is a farm located about 24 kilometers northwest of the starport (or, about 16 kilometers north of the fiancée’s compound). Large by district standards—about 5 square kilometers—the farm sits on the open savanna 75 meters west of a road running north-south. The northern, southern, and western areas of the farm consist of cultivated fields of waist-high wheat-like plants. Vineyards form the northwestern and southwestern sections of the land along with an associated small pond and solar-powered irrigation system (if the world’s Tech Level is too low to allow for solar power, then the irrigation system is powered by a small windmill.)
The main compound is defined by a low stone wall supplemented by a recently erected wire fence. The compound consists of the main house, a barn, an equipment shed, two bunkhouses, and a small military-surplus tent city set up in the compound’s southeastern section. Around the clock, rebel soldiers can be seen patrolling the farm, training conscripts, and guarding the farm’s remaining few field hands as they work the fields. At designated rest periods, the hands are kept under guard in one of the bunkhouses.
Careful observation will reveal that the base has a low number of troops, perhaps 150 at most. More than two-thirds of these appear to be conscripts, poorly-trained and possibly scared. They are equipped to the planetary Tech Level-1, but with either very light or no body armor.
The road approach to the compound is heavily guarded; at least two sentries are on duty at the entrance from the road, and two more guard the gate to the compound proper. Patrols also walk the perimeters of the compound and sometimes venture out into the fields. Every thirty minutes, the GM should throw 8+ for a patrol to approach close enough to detect the PCs. A DM of +3 applies if the adventurers think to approach by crawling through the plants, which will hide them from casual view while doing so. If the team is detected, the patrol will immediately summon help with walkie-talkies while trying to fall back to a more secure position. Up to 3d rebel soldiers will join the battle within one minute.
The bunkhouses are large enough to house 50 people each; one of them holds 20 young women, including the baronet’s fiancée, under heavy guard. Many of them have been mistreated. They have all been cowed into submission, and are too frightened to help the PCs or offer more than token resistance. The other bunkhouse holds Woluq’s male conscripts. During the day, this bunkhouse is empty as all the conscripts are forced to train. At night, they are all in the bunkouse and the door is locked and guarded.
Woluq himself is not currently on the premises, but does visit his “banks” regularly. At the start of each 24-hour period, the GM should throw 9+ for Woluq to make an appearance at some point during that day. He is a large, dark-skinned man in full military garb and never seen without a pair of sunglasses. He is a megalomaniac, and regards all those around him as tools, slaves, or cannon fodder, depending on his mood and their perceived usefulness to him. He is always accompanied by 2D heavily-armed soldiers and as many servants. These individuals are fanatically loyal to Woluq and will gladly give their lives for him. 15D rebel fighters armed and equipped similarly to the rebels tending the farm will accompany Woluq and his personal entourage. The difficulties involved in capturing or killing Woluq are up to the GM, but it should be a difficult undertaking, and in any case is not the focus of the adventure.
Rescuing the baronet’s fiancée successfully concludes the adventure, since this is all the baronet asked of the PCs. Other goals equally worthy include rescuing the other captive women and the conscripts and returning them to their families. The adventurers can also certainly strike a blow against the kidnappers themselves; especially clever players could find a way to rally the conscripts to help fight their captors, or even get the rebels to turn on Woluq when he shows up. Such extended activities are beyond the scope of this adventure; in any case, the GM should determine the flow of subsequent events.