This adventure originally appeared in response to an informal adventure contest on the Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society (JTAS) at SJGames, http://jtas.sjgames.com (now defunct), and was originally made available at Freelance Traveller in 2002 with the permission of SJGames and the author, and reprinted in the September/October 2019 issue of the downloadable magazine. It may not be distributed elsewhere without the express permission of SJGames and the author.
Contest criteria: The adventure should feature a virgin and “unusual stellar phenomena”.
The PC group cannot include Vargr. They must have a starship with room for passengers (probably anything bigger than a Scout).
Play starts on any backwater world that has little or no permanent Vargr population. There should be little traffic and no (or rare) regular passenger liners.
The destination world can be any world, Imperial or not, that has a significant Vargr population. This world should be about one month travel time from the starting point and should not be difficult to reach. It is a double star system, the companion a distant red dwarf that normally is not important.
- The virgin.
- The wimpy father.
- The grouchy business magistrate.
- The lovable old maidservant.
- The mystery male.
Guuvagh, a member of a Vargr merchant group that is investigating investments on this world, approaches the PCs. He, his daughter and two others, need transport back to their homeworld. He will be evasive and somewhat embarrassed if pressed on why, he only insists they must arrive no later than 35 standard days after launch. He will pay a bonus of Cr10,000 if the PCs can deliver. There should be no problem doing this. Guuvagh will also request bodyguard services, Cr7000 for each PC that acts as a body guard during any and all port calls. The only stipulation is that they must never let his daughter, Dzourraeks, out of their sight, and never allow her contact with other Vargr, especially males.
Any research will reveal nothing significant about Guuvagh; he is a minor official in the company, rich but not particularly charismatic. His daughter, Dzourraeks, has some scandals associated with her, but apparently nothing more serious than any feisty female Vargr just entering adulthood would have. The only problem is that Guuvagh’s company is made up of Vargr with somewhat puritanical beliefs, a culture common on that world. However, this does not appear to be the reason for their journey.
Dzourrakes is very personable, and in fact is developing a high level of charisma. By Vargr standards she is quite beautiful. She is intelligent and very spiritual, but reluctant to discuss details of her beliefs, especially when the other Vargr are present. It is obvious that her maidservant, an elderly female named Knularrg, has raised her and until recently exercised a lot of control over her. Dzourrakes loves to push her boundaries with Knularrg, and with any PCs acting as bodyguards.
Knularrg, for her part, is charismatic, but nervous. She will not want to speak around any sort of official, even fearing the ship’s captain. When away from officials she is very spiritual, apparently a follower of some form of Senghik Outoun, a common Vargr form of spirit worship. Unless she is very comfortable with a person, she will not reveal the exact nature of her religion.
The other member of the Vargr group is Zugfo, an elderly male. He is some sort of official, come to accompany Guuvagh and his daughter back. Foul tempered, he is very critical of Dzourrakes and will watch her every move. This is difficult, as he is old and easily distracted, especially by discussions of interest rates, family lineages and ‘the good old days’. Guuvagh will do anything to keep Zugfo happy, and this will occupy much of his time.
The day of launch a single male Vargr approaches the PCs, asking for passage. By Guuvagh’s terms, the group should probably reject him. Guuvagh will be very upset if this person, Zaedz, is allowed onboard, but it was not part of the original deal not to allow other Vargr aboard the ship.
During jump, Dzourrakes will delight in getting into mischief. She is very interested in jump mechanics, in fact making a study of this (much to her father’s disapproval). She will pester anyone in engineering, but is very friendly about it. At one point she will attempt an EVA, stealing a vacc suit, just to see jump space ‘first hand’. While not particularly dangerous, this should be an unnerving event for the PCs.
If Zaedz is onboard, Guuvagh will insist that he be kept as far from his daughter as possible. Zugfo, too, will be very insistent on this. For her part, Dzourrakes will be only show mild interest in him, but apparently will use the chance to vex her elders and her bodyguards. Zaedz, on the other hand, will be very interested in Dzourrakes.
If Zaedz was not allowed on the ship, he will arrive at their next port of call less than a day after they arrive. This is very unusual, since there were no other ships scheduled to leave so soon after the PCs’ ship. He will be very evasive if questioned. A difficult search of starport records (the SPA will be reluctant to reveal them) will show that Zaedz came in his own Scout.
Other adventures at the layover ports are possible, with Dzourrakes leading the PCs on a merry chase or otherwise getting them into trouble with Guuvagh, Zugfo, and even Knularrg. She will find the only bars with possible Vargr clientele, and that will more often then not have the PCs come to blows with young Vargr males who wish Dzourrakes ‘attentions’. This should not lead to deadly violence, only bar room brawls or duels to first blood. Dzourrakes will also sneak away with female Vargr, and the PCs may find her speaking intently to them about religious matters. Her growing charisma will be very evident in these cases.
On the final leg of the journey the ship will suffer an apparent misjump. The system’s companion star, a red dwarf, turns out to be a Shaamarkudun Variable, and has suddenly expanded to triple its former size. The new diameter precipitated the PCs’ ship out of jump and far from help. The misjump is so damaging the maneuver drives are knocked out as well. It will take weeks for help to arrive and tow the ship into port.
Fortunately, a Vargr passenger liner is precipitated near the PCs ship, only a few hours after they arrive. This ship, the Pride of Anggahks, with hundreds of passengers, mostly Vargr, will have working maneuver drives and will offer to give anyone aboard a lift to the mainworld. Guuvagh will insist on going. The PCs can be assured that the SPA will take care of the their ship (if not pay for the towing and repairs, at least it will arrive in port safely), so they may join Guuvagh and company. If they did not hire on as bodyguards, Guuvagh will repeat the offer, at triple the rate.
While on the Pride of Anggahks, the captain of that ship, in order to distract his otherwise upset passengers, will order parties every night. This will become a frantic chase for the PC bodyguards, as Dzourrakes will do everything in her power to escape them. Further, she will attempt to ‘rendezvous’ with any male she meets, especially Zaedz if he is present. This is an apparent turn around, as she was not especially interested in sex prior to this. Knularrg will suddenly be running interference for Dzourrakes, another turn around, and be annoyingly vocal in her beliefs.
Apparently this misjump was some sort of sign. Guuvagh will be desperate to keep his daughter a virgin and will offer the PCs thousands of credits if they can help.
What Is Going On?
Guuvagh, et al, come from a Vargr culture that practices Kaegorz. Inheritance follows the females of the family, only passed to virgins. The actual money, properties, etc., are controlled by the males, in this case Guuvagh, but he has to have a virginal daughter to receive the money.
Zugfo is a Dhohkskfu, essentially a virginity checker, heraldry master and banker, all in one, associated with Kaegorz. He came to Guuvagh to inform him of an inheritance, one worth millions of credits, and to check and keep an eye on Dzourrakes. If Dzourrakes arrives a virgin, within the allotted timespan, the entire inheritance goes to Guuvagh. Otherwise he will get little or none of it.
Knularrg, Dzourrakes’s faithful maidservant, is secretly a priestess of the Tsuelloung Zhatuga Kfaeghr sect, a cult of Senghik Outoun officially forbidden in the Imperium due to the psionic powers of its members. She has been teaching Dzourrakes the ways of the sect, but with no real hope to make her a priestess. Dzourrakes had no interest in becoming a mother anytime soon, and it is a requirement that she do so before her 19th year. With Dzourrakes’s growing charisma, and her interest in jump space, Knularrg has lately been pressing Dzourrakes to consider becoming a priestess. Dzourrakes refused, especially after the arrival of Zugfo and the news of the inheritance.
This changed with the misjump. Knularrg had been predicting something would happen to change her mind, and this sudden dramatic turn of events has convinced Dzourrakes that she should become a priestess. Therefore she will try to get pregnant as soon as possible. A passenger liner full of partying Vargr would make this pretty easy to do, unless the PCs intervene.
The mysterious Zaedz, on the other hand, appears to be in love with Dzourrakes. She was friendly to him in the past, but it was never too serious. If he is available, Dzourrakes will prefer to have him become the father of her child (if only because she knows him).
Any and all of this may become apparent during the weeks the PCs are with the Vargr. Discussion of his daughter’s virginity will not be easy with Guuvagh, but Zugfo will probably break the ice sometime during the voyage. If the PCs can keep Dzourrakes a virgin, Guuvagh will pay them a bonus of Cr7,000 each. If they do not, he will declare bankruptcy or otherwise attempt not to pay them for anything. Remember they have a huge repair bill to pay for their ship…
- Knularrg is very psionic, and will use these powers to help Dzourrakes during her ‘quest’.
- Zaedz is actually an agent of the Ministry of Justice. The Tsuelloung Zhatuga Kfaeghr sect is illegal and he has been on the trail of Knularrg for a long time. Dzourrakes is incidental to him, but she may end up seducing him anyway. If he is not a MoJ agent, he is somewhat rich and bribed the SPA officials to reveal the PCs’ flight plans and hid his ship (in case of retaliation by Guuvagh).
- Dzourrakes is psionic, and uses her powers to aid her mischief. She
is otherwise a good person, but is intelligent enough to know not to
reveal too much about her powers.
If she can become a priestess, she will become very powerful, commanding quite a following (although she will probably have to move into the Extents permanently thanks to anti-psi prejudice in the Imperium). Depending on the PCs’ actions, she can be a good friend, or dangerous enemy.
- Vargr cultural meme present in many lower tech worlds of the Gvurrdon Sector. In general it states that males of household control/determine sexual activity of females. In practice this usually means the most ideal female mates are virginal and conversely, the least desirable have mated outside of legal or religious marriage. This is often coupled with dowry or inheritance laws.
- Tsuelloung Zhatuga Kfaeghr:
- Cult form of Senghik Outoun, Vargr spirit worship. Officials in this cult must all be female, have given birth by the age of 19 and be psionically trained. Due to the dangerous psionic powers high level members possess, this cult is banned on all Imperial worlds. (this is a more radical form of Zhatuga Kfaeghr; see GURPS Traveller Alien Races 1, p. 85)
- Shaamarkudun Variable:
- An extremely long term variable star. Such stars, typically M5 to M9 suns, will remain in a steady state for hundreds to thousands of years, during which their cores gradually heat up. During a few critical weeks, they will expand to several times their normal diameter as the core reaches a critical state. Those outer layers are eventually expelled as the core expands and cools. The star collapses again and resumes its slow heating. (recall that in standard Traveller rules, diameter is the important figure in jump limitations—”take it as an article of faith.”)