This article originally appeared in the July/August 2023 issue.
“Mayday, Mayday…fire has broken out aboard our ship. We are requesting an expedited evacuation for our cargo. Payment promised upon safe delivery. Again, immediate evacuation requested for our cargo, fire has broken out aboard our ship.”
Solomon Brass, captain of Pyramid Transport is currently transporting a large and very expensive art collection. Unfortunately, a fire has broken out aboard the ship. Due to the very specific mixture of chemicals in the air used to preserve the art, the fire has been slowed—but attempts to completely put it out have failed.
Van d’Orsay, the curator of the art collection, has convinced Solomon Brass to abandon efforts to put the fire out, and instead focus on saving as much of the collection as possible through evacuation. The ship’s boat is being filled with art, and barely has room for the evacuation of the crew as well. The rest of the collection is doomed to death by fire, unless someone comes to their aid.
If the characters decide to help, there are a few suggestions below.
Endurance or Vacc Suit: Most of the rooms in the ship are now filled with smoke. Characters will need to succeed with an Endurance check (or, prior to entering, a Vacc Suit check) to get in and out safely with art in hand. A failed endurance check will force a character back to regroup, or take minor physical damage. A failed Vacc Suit check will result in twice as much time passing as the character struggles to see in the smoke.
Art: Van d’Orsay’s instructions are to save the more expensive art first. Being overwhelmed as he is, he doesn’t consider that a layperson may not be able to differentiate the price of art, just by looking at the piece. A successful art check allows a character to identify the general price and quality of work. Prices of the pieces in the collection range from common (1/100 cost of ship) to rare (1/2 cost of ship).
Time: While the rescue effort continues, the fire grows. The characters have an hour before the fire consumes the ship. This allows for 6 attempts (10 minutes per try) for the characters to save what art they can.
If the characters are able to help save art from the Pyramid Transport, Solomon Brass will instruct them to rendezvous at a starport two jumps away. Van d’Orsay will be annoying with his reminders about how to care for the art, but will promise payment upon successful delivery—10% of the total cost of the art that the characters were able to help save.
The art isn’t digitally tracked, but it does have serial numbers tying it to Van d’Orsay’s collection. The characters can follow the curator’s instructions and receive their nominal payment. Or, they can try and find another buyer on the black market of stolen art goods. If they do, they will find a powerful and furious enemy in Van d’Orsay’s employer—Lord Joffrey Augustus.