This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue.
Welcome to Carse (Spinward Marches 2224), the “Big Meldo“, as the Carse Tourist Board calls it in its official slogans. People from other worlds have different, less polite names. “Home of the Meldo-heads” is sometimes used by former tourists, mostly of the kind that run into trouble with the (many) local laws.
Carse, always in the shadow of its neighbor Lunion, is one of these worlds slightly off the beaten path that seem to be only of interest to their inhabitants. If one takes a closer look, Carse has a few surprises to offer.
One parsec to trailing from Lunion, Carse circles around the primary of a double star system. While the primary is a red M3 V dwarf, the slightly smaller M6 V companion (“Little Sun”) orbits Carse Prime in an average distance of 37 AU, due the eccentricity of its orbit it comes closest to the primary at 29 AU, the aphelion is at 44 AU. As the 100-D limit for both stars is at about 0.32 AU, Carse is always “jump masked” by the primary, and the jump shadow of the companion is likely to be a factor as well.
While Little Sun and the other planets are never more than small stars in the night sky, Carse Prime (to the natives, simply “the sun”), hangs huge above the day-side, with a size of 1.75° it appears much larger than Sol in the Terran sky. Since Carse Prime emits most of its energy as infrared radiation, the daylight is rather dim, like in a well-lit room.
Apart from Carse itself, there is one other planet of minor interest. Meldonna is the only gas giant in the system and sometimes used for refueling. The other planets are airless rockballs without any useful resources and are listed here just for convenience. The planets of the companion were not even named.
|The Carse System|
|0.105||Carse||Ocean World||8,000 km||Standard||34 %||Normal|
|0.705||Aurogi||Icy Rockball||2,800 km||-||-||Frozen|
|1.305||Jones||Icy Rockball||2,500 km||-||(Ice) 5 %||Frozen|
|2.505||Meldonna||Gas Giant||21,000 km||-||-||-||14 tiny moons, all captured asteroids|
|4.95||Claudia||Icy Rockball||2,100 km||-||(Ice) 10 %||Frigid|
|0.063||Carse 2-A||Rockball||1,800 km||-||-||Torrid|
|0.363||Carse 2-B||Rockball||2,400 km||-||-||Frozen|
|0.663||Carse 2-C||Icy Rockball||3,200 km||-||(Ice) 10 %||Frozen|
|1.263||Carse 2-D||Icy Rockball||2,000 km||-||-||Frozen|
|2.463||Carse 2-E||Icy Rockball||3,400 km||-||(Ice) 5 %||Frozen|
|4.863||Carse 2-F||Icy Rockball||2,700 km||-||-||Frozen|
|9.663||Carse 2-G||Icy Rockball||1,500 km||-||-||Frigid|
Carse is a tide-locked world that orbits the primary star in 27.11 standard days at a distance of 0.105 AU. With a diameter of 8,000 km and an average density of 4.4, planetary gravity is 0.5 g, just enough to maintain standard atmospheric pressure.
As usual for a tide-locked world, the average temperature is measured in the twilight zone between day- and night-side. It becomes warmer as farther to the day-side one travels, but even at the “hot pole”, where Prime looms right above a visitor, the temperature is bearable, about as hot as at noon in the Terran Death Valley. A trip to night-side means the opposite. The temperature drops quickly the farther one travels into the darkness, and at the “cold pole” survival is only possible in a heated environment suit.
The world’s water runs into the Ring Sea, an ocean that stretches around the twilight zone and forms a huge “tidal bulge” at the day-side shore. As Carse is so close to its star, strong tidal forces influence the world – the tidal effect is measured at 41 times that of Terra. The tidal bulge nags forever at the coast, eroding the softer rocks and leaving harder ones standing out of the sea, before even they come down.
Settlements at sea level can only exist for a limited time, and Port Meldo, the only town, is located on top of a cliff. Meldo Mesa, near the coast of Meldo Beach, is where the inhabitants enjoy a spectacular view of the Ring Sea under a giant sun forever on the horizon.
Native life on Carse adapted to the local conditions. Around the Ring Sea, a mangrove forest became the “evolutionary kitchen” of the world. It grew to a thick layer of plants that can survive the 27-day-long cycle of flooding, falling dry and flooding again. The mangroves turn into a shrubbery jungle on the day-side that thins out into a sort of semi-savanna, that ’fades’ to a rocky desert the farther one travels toward the hot pole. On the night-side, the mangroves give way to a variety of bizarre cactus-like bushes, that grow sparser and gradually make room for mosses and snow.
The most important plant on Carse is, of course, the Meldo. The wild Meldo grows at the edge of the Ring Sea. During the tide, when the plant is under water, the Meldo bush sprouts small buds. As soon as the water runs off with the low tide, these buds grow into a prune-sized fruit reminiscent of a Terran cactus – green, with lots of thorns. When the flood returns, the ripe Meldos drops into the rising water to be washed away to a new growing place.
The modern, cultivated Meldo was bred out of the wild form 400 years ago after the commercial potential of the fruit was discovered. It took 10 years and expensive genetic manipulation to turn the sour wild Meldo into the modern fruit that is so cherished. The Meldos you can buy today are the size of a grapefruit, thornless but with a sweet-sour taste.
The local fauna is made up mostly by crab-like animals, the largest about the size of a Terran house cat. These “crabbos”, as they were christened by the natives, are rather dumb, have a nasty temper and sharp claws. Fortunately for them, while they are edible, their taste leaves much to be desired, so they usually do not end in a cooking pot. A different example is the Carse Halibut, a fish that can grow up to one meters length. It is very tasty and went nearly extinct through overfishing before protection laws were put in order.
All higher life-forms on Carse were imported. The native Carsers are descendants of the Lunion specialists that settled on the planet 400 years ago. Without much income and resources for genetic therapy in the beginning, their children developed into lightworlders.
The so-called Skinnies have a pale complexion, an average height of 2.20 meters (about 7'3''), weight about 55 kg (about 120 lbs.) and are as strong as a 14 year old youth from Terra. Or, as a Solomani visitor stated (before he was chased off the planet): “They look like a bunch of pale, malnourished basketball players.”
It is unknown who was the first visitor to Carse. In the hills near Port Meldo, traces of a landing and remains of a camp were found. Archaeologists assume that they were left there around –1000. Who left them is unknown, best guess is a group of refugees during the long night. For the next twelve centuries, nothing happened.
A few years after the founding of the Third Imperium, its first ships reached the marches. A trade expedition, the same one that discovered Lunion, visited Carse. After a short scan, they went back to the more promising Lunion. As the Marches were developed, Carse was ignored for better opportunities. Only during a crisis the navy dispatched some SDBs to keep an eye on “Lunion’s backyard”.
During the first survey (320-420), the IISS took a closer look at the Carse system. It was during this time that the wild Meldo was discovered, but the results of the survey simply vanished in the huge mountain of data that were generated at that time. Aside from the occasional ship that refueled in the system, Carse was ignored again.
This changed after the Second Frontier War and the Civil War. Both wars had flushed money into the Lunion economy, and the various businesses looked for ways to invest the profits. Luxury goods were in high demand, and as investors checked the archives, they discovered the old data on Carse. The Meldo fruit looked promising, and so the Carse Fruit Company (CFC) was founded. The Meldo was brought into its modern form, and during that time workers from Lunion laid ground for Port Meldo and the plantations. Ten years later, the first harvest was brought in and brought high profits.
For the next two centuries, Carse became a “banana republic”. All profits were made due to the Meldo and landed on the accounts of the CFC, while costs were cut as low as possible. Among the cut expenses were the medicaments that would have prevented the workers and their offspring from suffering from the consequences of the low gravity, and so the “Carse beanstalks” appeared. As this knowledge spread on Lunion, an outraged public refused to buy Meldos. This consumer-boycott tanked the CFC stocks, the investors panicked, and the CFC went bankrupt. The employees on Carse were compensated with the titles and founded the Carse Homestead Cooperative (CHC).
After a short time, business was running smoothly. In the following centuries, life on Carse followed a steady rhythm of planting, harvest, selling the harvest on Lunion and planting again. Over time, the Carsers build up a fortune and decided in the late 800s to expand. Agriculture alone seem to risky, and so they decided to use another resource they had – Carse’s landscape. A first hotel was build and became an instant success, and so the Carsers turned to tourism in earnest. Around this time, the starport was upgraded to its current size.
For the next 200 years, Carse followed a little faster rhythm. Many Carsers left the plantations and started a career in services, and so the demand for labor and the wages grow. The new hotels also needed more power, and the solar park on the day-side was build. To install and maintain the park, specialists were hired off-world, and so the first Jonkereen arrived around 950.
Since then, nothing much happened. The exception was during the last frontier war, when the Sword Worlds frigate Magnusdottir misjumped into the system. The crew of the Magnusdottir managed to reach the main world, but then ran out of luck. The ship crashed near the day-side coast. The few survivors were arrested, and the wreck was destroyed when the next flood rolled over it. Since then, life on Carse has not been very interesting.
Carse has about 6,400 inhabitants, most of them tall, slim descendants of the first Lunion settlers. The Skinnies make up 90% of the population.
The largest minority is made up from 300 Jonkeereen, whose ancestors were called to Carse when specialists for the construction of the great solar park were needed. Genetically created for a life in the desert, some Jonkeereen took a liking to the warm day-side and decided to stay. The Jonkeereen prefer to stay away from the “mainstream” Carsers and live in a village (“Solar Town”) near the solar park. They are still responsible for the power supply of Carse, cleaning the solar panels and maintaining the power lines.
The smallest and youngest minority is a tuhir of Vegans. The first of these aliens reached Carse during the Third Frontier War as spacers aboard Imperial Navy ships, enjoying some R&R on Carse. The local gravity and dry climate fitted very well to their nature, and the rock formations of the Gresni Desert fascinated them. After the war, some Vegans stayed and settled in a very spectacular area. Over time, the Vegans of Carse developed the “caste philosophy” of their tuhir, the “thinkers between the strange rocks under the eternal sunrise”. Although most of the Vegans belong to the group that came to Carse more than 100 years ago, the tuhir attracted new members over the years. The Vegans make a living as guides or innkeepers for the tourists that visit the Gresni Desert, and the “Vegan Village” has become a minor attraction.
All these groups get along rather well; there is little friction. This is because they have common “enemy” - the tourists. About 300–500 tourists are on Carse at any given time, which is a lot for such a small native population.
Carse is officially stated as a “Athenian-style” or participatory democracy, but critics described it either as corporate or socialist state – and both could be seen as right.
While individual property is allowed and even encouraged, most plantations and the biggest hotels are owned by the cooperative.
Every citizen is a member of the cooperative and has the right to a share of the co-op’s profits and to participate in the legislative process. Almost every month a new law or regulation pops up in the planetary data net, and the Carsers vote about it.
The executive and judicial powers are held by the co-op’s board, a council of seven commissioners who take care of the day-to-day decisions. Each commissioner is responsible for one department - Agronomy, Ethics, Extra-Planetary Relationships, Finances, Public Security, and Tourism.
Each commissioner serves for five years and is appointed by the other members of the board. In theory, it is possible that every citizen can be appointed to the board, but somehow, most commissioners are from the same influential families that also own the large plantations and hotels.
As in every society, various interest groups try to influence the political processes. The main parties on Carse are the Agricultural Advancement Society (AAS) that act as agent for the plantation owners, and the Meldo Pickers Union (MPU), which represents the farm hands and also the employees in the tourist industry. The third group is the Surfing and Carseball Association (SCA) – officially, it has no political goals, but as it has more than 1,500 members, it wields a remarkable influence.
Customs and Traditions
The average Carser is a quiet, law-abiding citizen who has a dislike for conflict. He usually tries to handle conflicts with a bulky collection of rules, enforced by moral pressure. Like other cultures, Carsers try to “keep face”, a special kind of reputation that ensures one’s social standing. Carsers treat their brethren with a polite respect and usually extend this to outsiders like tourists. This is probably a heritage from Lunion, were their ancestors lived in overcrowded arcologies.
This, of course, builds up a lot of psychological stress. The Carsers have two main ways to let off steam – a vitriolic cynicism and a fondness for risky sports. Their biting humor is usually aimed at obnoxious tourists and expresses itself as politely wrapped-up insults the receiver often only gets hours later – or deep in jump space, on the voyage home.
The sports on Carse are of the adrenalin-rush-inducing kind. Most famous is Carseball, which is similar to the ancient game of basketball, but with a few differences owing to the environmental conditions. Because of the low gravity, the field is about the size of a football field, and the baskets are mounted on ten-meter-high masts. The rules encourage a rather rough style of play.
The other big sport is surfing. Thanks to the large, eternal tide and the low gravity, surfers on Carse show impressive maneuvers. Being a good surfer is the easiest way to gain the respect of the locals.
Carse is rated as TL9, slightly below the Imperial average. While the Carsers have access to the usual equipment of this TL – grav cars, a planetary data network and bionic transplants – a world with only 6,000 inhabitants can not maintain the necessary industry to build all this gear. So, Carse imports its rugged TL 9 gear from the more advanced Lunion, where TL 9 gear can be manufactured cheap. Carsers usually do not buy TL10 gear because it would be too costly to import spare parts or replacements. In Port Meldo there are a number of workshops and small firms that have specialized in repairing TL9 equipment of every kind.
As stated, Carse’s energy is produced by a single solar park on the day-side, out of sight of the hotels. Interested people can visit the park, but there is not much to see – just a few square kilometers of solar panels, a lot of dust and the occasional robot cleaning the solar cells.
On a planet with few inhabitants, labor is always in high demand. Therefore, much of the work on Carse is done by robots. Simple robots following programmed patterns are everywhere – from automatic vacuum cleaners in the hotels to robotic fruit pickers on the plantations. Humans usually control the robots by remote or work in the branches where human service is preferred, e.g., as a tour guide, barkeeper or waiter.
As stated, the economy of Carse rests on two legs – tourism and agriculture, mainly the cultivation of the Meldo. A few small firms process the Meldo to fruit juices or canned goods, but mostly the whole fruits are exported to Lunion, where a small but steady demand ensures the sales. While there are Meldos being planted in the vertical farms of Lunion’s arcologies, the “genuine, organic original” from Carse is still in demand.
The same goes for the tourism. At any given moment, about 400 tourists are on the planet. Most of them are from Lunion; guests from Strouden make up the rest. On these high tech worlds, members of the middle class earn enough money to afford a month long trip away from work – one week for the journey to Carse, two weeks of fun and sun, and one week for the return trip.
The Carse Tourist Board (CTB) runs advertising campaigns specially targeted to the middle class—the rich and famous spend their holidays on more interesting places. Around 1050, the CTB tried to lure in lower-income customers, but this experiment was terminated after only two years. Nobody on Carse really wanted “proles”, shipped in low berth, spoiling the pretty beaches and dwelling in capsule hotels, drinking and causing trouble every night. So, the rabble is simply not invited anymore, and the campaigns now are targeted to honeymooners, well-to-do families and retirees. The only troublemakers nowadays are students of the famous Lunion School of Economics, who come to Carse after graduation to “let off some steam”, before they join one of the megacorps and will never have fun again.
While Carse’s law level is deemed ’moderate’, visitors will quickly understand that here are a lot of regulations, all put up by agreement of the voting public. Carse is not governed by the “tyranny of the public”, but the planet can be considered as a controlled world.
The ever-growing mass of rules are tailored to serve the interests – and whims – of the Carsers. Many of them are designed to protect the environment – on a planet that depends on agronomy and a pretty landscape to attract tourists, environmentalism is a big issue. Another large number of rules were set to steer the masses of the tourists. When the yearly amount of visitors numbers more than half the inhabitants, you want to keep them in line.
This starts at the XT line. Every visitor is controlled, but in a rather polite way.
A non-resident who wants to pass the line has to show his Imperial ID, a confirmation of his lodging arrangements and his financial reserves for the time of his stay and a return-ticket. All this shall insure that he will not become a burden to the people of Carse. In return, the visitor gets a booklet with the most important rules that apply to him and a shackle with an electronic tag that he has to wear during his stay. Welcome to Carse.
Officially, the tag is for the safety of the visitor, and this claim is somewhat justified. Most tourists – and many spacers – spend most of their lives in a sheltered, controlled environment like an arcology, so a “howling wilderness” like Carses can be dangerous. They could get lost in the mangroves, walk in front of a passing grav car or set up a picnic in the tidal zone – this all has happened. So, to make Carse as child-proof as possible for the visitors, the Carses make sure that they stick to the rules.
One minor object that somehow is of special interest to some visitors is about personal weapons. The rules are simple – no firearms for the visitors, and few for the natives. Somebody with a gun will not be allowed to pass the XT line. The Carsers themselves are permitted to own hunting weapons, but they need a license for each weapon and have to carry them open. Not many guns can be found – there is not much to hunt. There is one (1) store for sporting goods in Port Meldo that sells guns, but of course they demand the right paperwork before a sale and inform the Rangers about it. The shops sells many more surf boards than hunting rifles.
Violators of the laws are put on trial. If found guilty by the judge (there are no juries), the punishment is usually a fine and compensation for damages. If a culprit cannot pay this, he has to work in public services (picking up trash, working on a co-op plantation ...) until he paid his debts. This can take years, and the culprit has to wear a special tracker all the time during this punishment.
There is a prison on Carse. It is rather small and only for those convicted of serious crimes. At the moment, three convicts are doing time – two cases of grievous assault and one murderer. There is no capital punishment on Carse.
The Colonial Forces
A mid-tech, low population world like Carse can of course not build-up a large, modern armed force. Instead, there are the Carse Rangers. The Rangers are an all-purpose service that fulfills the duty of police, fire department, paramedics and forest service. The Rangers are about company strength but can call up a volunteer reserve should the need arise.
The life of a Carse Ranger is a rather relaxed one. Usually, Rangers are on patrol around Port Meldo or the tourist areas in a grav car, observing the environment and keeping an eye out for unusual movement of tracker signals. Occasionally, a drunk tourist thinks he can overcome the “beanpoles” because he stronger and heavier. He will quickly realize that despite this, the Rangers are accustomed to the local gravity and sober.
Rangers on patrol wear only light mesh cloth (shorts and a t-shirt) and are armed with stun batons and laser pistols. For back-up, they have a shotgun with rubber bullets in the trunk of their vehicle, just in case the tourists get restless. They also have a crash kit for emergencies aboard, which the Rangers need more often.
The “space branch” of the Rangers is single 50-ton modular cutter, The Flying Meldo, with a search-and-rescue module. It is based at the starport and the pride of the planet.
Meldo Field, the small class 3 (C) port is not very remarkable. A double, 6 meter high fence surrounds an area of 52 hectares (about 0.2 square miles). The main terminal is a ugly, but functional glass-and-concrete cube with a small control tower on top. Aside from two warehouses (with a capacity of 2,500 dton in total) there are one large berth for ships up to 5,000 tons, four 800-ton berths, three 500-ton berths and three 100-ton berths.
Access to the port is through a main gate, where every passer-by is checked by the Rangers. Crossing the XT-line illegally is difficult. The fences are too high to simply jump over and are monitored by cameras and other sensors.
Meldo Field does not see much traffic. During an average week, fewer than 400 passengers and about 6,000 dtons of cargo pass through it. Most of this traffic is handled by 2,000-ton frontier transports of Imperiallines, a few subsidized merchants and the occasional free trader.
The port provides refined and unrefined fuel, produced out of sea water. The fuel is stored in solid underground tanks that can contain up to 500 dton.
The revenues aside (Meldo Field generates an income of 7.5 MCr per year), the port is also a major employer as 300 people work on it. As in the other enterprises, most routine work is done by robots.
Right at the main gate, one can find Meldo Punch, the local hive of debauchery. It is made up out of three (3) bars – The Meldo Bowl, The Spicy Meldo and the Meldo A Go Go – and a cheap hotel, The Randy Meldo. In Meldo Punch, spacers on shore leave and adventurous tourists mingle to let their hair down. Honest and uptight Carsers usually avoid this place of chaos and lawlessness.
Other Points of Interest
Carse does not have many tourist attractions, but visitors can find some places to take pictures for the folks at home.
The Gresni Desert is the main reason that tourists come to Carse at all. Once, this area belonged to the Ring Sea, before the ocean nagged away the softer stones and changed its bed. In an area about as large as Texas (the Terran province, not the planet), the desert is dotted now with large rock formations that were formed into bizarre shapes. Most tourists prefer to explore the Gresni Desert by grav car, but the tourist authority also offers guided hiking tours. It is in the desert where the villages of the Vegans and the Jonkereen can be found.
Port Meldo itself is a small, sleepy town on a sparsely populated colony planet. Nevertheless, to the Carsers it is simply “the city” and the center of cultural and social life. Port Meldo is the seat of the cooperative administration, a small hospital (good enough for all emergencies that could happen on the planet), a community hall and the stores and workshops the natives and tourists need. Port Meldo is laid out in a fan-like pattern; most buildings are stand-alone homes, and only in the center are a few apartment houses or office blocks. Here one can also find decent restaurants and coffee shops, if the decadent cesspool of Meldo Punch is too lively.
The Meldo Festival is not a place, but an annual event. To celebrate the first harvest of the calender year (this year around day 32), the Carsers stage a large party. There is a concert at the beach, planters compete for the biggest Meldo, and the Carsers feast on pickled Meldos, fried Meldos and Meldo-on-a-stick, flushing all this down with Meldo Brandy. Highlight of the festival is the crowning of the Meldo Queen.
Persons of Interest
Admittedly, there aren’t many people on Carse, but a few stand out of the small crowd.
Cynthia da Imalfini, (sixth) Baroness Carse. The first chairman of the cooperatives board was ennobled in recognition for his merits that kept the colony afloat. Lady Cynthia is the sixth holder of the title, which she inherited five years ago. Her Ladyship is in her early 40s and, aside from fulfilling her duties as the holder of the Imperial Mandate, also manages one of the greatest plantations and raises three children. Her husband Mazun is the manager of the largest hotel.
PCs can encounter the Baroness either in her role as noble seeking troubleshooters, or as a business woman that hires them to transport a freight to Lunion.
Mike “Sarge” Lugashi, former Ship Sergeant in the Imperial Marines, is one of the few tourists who stayed on Carse. In the Corps, he learned to fly cutters under the worst circumstances. After he left the Marines, he was the ‘right man for the job’ that the Carsers wanted as a pilot for their cutter. Lugashi is nearing his 50s and will keep flying as long as he can. With the current medical technology, this can mean 30 years or more. “Sarge” lives in a small apartment with his native wife Shanna, who is two heads taller then him and works as a waitress in the Meldo A Go Go.
PCs can encounter him at the starport, when he gives them a hand, or in-system, as the Cutter is sometimes on a mission to check on automatic beacons or unidentified blips on the sensors.
Denise “Tidal Princess” Marana is the most famous person on Carse. As everybody’s darling, she is always surrounded by a flock of admirers. The tall (2.30 meter), slender but muscular woman showed early in her childhood her talent for sports, winning every trophy in school and later professional events. The pale blonde, gifted with a optimistic personality and a bright smile won the title of the Meldo Queen five times in a row.
Denise makes a living by running a surf school. When she is not on a board, Denise can be found on a Carseball field, playing with anybody who shows up. Denise is in her mid-20s and the people of Carse are wondering when – and who – she will marry. At the moment, she shows no interest in this; Denise is quite happy with her current lifestyle.
PCs usually will find her at the beach. Aside from teaching them the fine art of low-g surfing, Denise knows many people in Port Meldo and also has befriended a lot of tourists from Lunion, in case the PC need an introduction to somebody there.
This article is based on Carse’s entry in GURPS Traveller: Behind the Claw, which I expanded with the rules in GURPS Traveller: First In and GURPS Traveller: Starports. The result maybe more fitting to the “Lorenverse”, which has a number of differences to other versions of Traveller – for example, most Imperial Worlds have Barons and there are few landed knights. Nevertheless, it should be easily adaptable.
Carse is a little off the beaten path, but the GM can easily find a reason for the PCs to visit this world. Maybe their ship got a cargo for Carse. Another reason could be that the Imperial Laws permit that a ships crew perform the required annual maintenance at class 3 (C) port themselves, so Carse would be cheap alternative to the port of Lunion. Or the heroes simply take a much-deserved vacation.
The Beanpole In the Crew
Of course, a player character can be born on the great Meldo. This would show in the characters body – in GURPS terms, he would be a lightworlder with low strength, but a very slender build. If he visits other planets, he would somehow had to deal with the higher gravity there by wearing an exo-skeleton or a grav belt. Aboard a starship, the gravity would have to be adjusted to his needs. He still would have to bend over to prevent that his heads slams at the ceiling. On the other hand, he could fit through narrow passages like ventilation shafts.
His skills would probably be limited. Carse has no need for spacers, technical expertise is limited on the repair of every-day equipment like air-conditions, robots or grav cars. On the other hand, if he was employed in the hotels, he would be an excellent steward or cook. Former members of the Carse Rangers could stand their man in a firefight, but a barroom brawl in higher gravity would be a challenge.
Secrets and Adventure Hooks
Even a small world, some things are hidden. Players maybe should not read further, in case the game master wants to use the following ideas.
The Ships That Pass By
To Traveller GMs and players alike, Imperiallines involvement in the intelligence community is an open secret. This shipping line runs a number of freighters and passenger liners and keeps a low profile, because behind a variety of false fronts, shell companies and silent partnerships Imperiallines belongs to the Imperial Family. The company is a clandestine courier service – and maybe more. The shipping line runs a branch office at Meldo Field, with their 2,000 ton frontier transports (GURPS Traveller: First In, p. 138) landing two to three times each week on the Lunion run. From time to time, another ship of the company passes through, just dropping of some data “from the main office” before taking off again.
The local manager, Eneri Casablanca, ensures that Imperiallines does not rock any boat and the company remains as low-key as possible. But maybe someday he has to hire a innocent third-party for an urgent delivery to a strange place?
The Man In the Jungle
Not all crew members died or were captured when the Magnusdottir crashed during the war. One man, Obermaat Thor Olafsson, managed to escape and hide in the mangroves – even the other survivors do not know that their former j-drive technician is still alive.
Olafsson is waiting for a rescue ship. He knows that before the crash, the Magnusdottir broadcast a distress call towards the Sword Worlds. The signal will take 22 years to reach a Sword World (Hofud), and Obermaat Olafsson is sure that after receiving the signal, his brothers at home will immediately send a rescue mission, no matter what the damn Imperials will put in their way.
He is determined to hold out until they arrive. In the meantime, he survives by eating wild Meldo, crabbos, fishes and the occasionally stolen picnic basket. Low gravity and malnutrition were not good to his body, and the isolation really took its toll on his mind. If the PC encounter Olafsson, they will meet the emaciated wreck of a man, dressed in the remains of a Sworld World Navy coverall, with wild blond hair and a scraggy beard. Desperate, frightened and almost mad, he is the last man who should have a laser-pistol. If the PC manage to capture him alive and bring him home, Obermaat Olafsson will be celebrated there as a hero.
The Hotel In the Desert
The Sweet Meldo Inn is a remote hotel in the middle of the Gresni Desert. It is especially for guests who “want to get away from everything”, as the management states on the hotel’s homepage. The prices are rather high, but interested guest will find that there is a long waiting list – and most requests are politely denied. This is strange, because if one visits the hotel in person, he will find that many rooms are not occupied. This is probably the last thing he will notice.
The Sweet Meldo Inn is a psionic institute. It is run by psis from Lunion, who needed a remote location for training, something that is hard to hide on a high-tech, high population world with an Imperial Navy base. If promising candidates catches their attention, the psis of Lunion arrange a vacation in the Sweet Meldo Inn for them. Here, they will receive the training they need. The institute has agents on Lunion and Carse who will warn them if problems show up.
From time to time, the Inn will allow other visitors, just to keep up a normal appearance. The visitors will just see a nice hotel with a luxurious interior and very dedicated staff, while telepaths among the staff and guests influence them subtly. Should a really unexpected visitor appear, the telepaths will erase his memory and drop him far away in the desert. When he is discovered, the holes in his memories will be “caused by exposure”.
The Ships Out There
Carse’s second star is orbited by airless rockballs without resources, and therefore unexploited. This makes one of those worthless planets the perfect hiding place for a squadron of old warships.
Carse-2-f orbits the companion in a distance of 4.9 AU, outside the jump mask. In a crater, the admiralty of the 43rd fleet parked a number of obsolete ships – mostly frigates, cruisers, jump tenders and SDBs – that were officially scrapped. This was done as an emergency cache for the next frontier war, should Lunion ever be blockaded by the Zhodani and their allies. Not many people outside the admiralty know of the “lost squadron”. Twice a year, the Navy sends a ship on a “training mission” into the companions system to ensure that the squadron is still there.
So there they are, old warships, ready to use, worth billions of credits, sitting in a crater on a planet that nobody has any interest in. Should the PCs stumble upon this cache – maybe by a misjump – they may think that they have hit a jackpot. The GM should let them enjoy their find. It will not be for long.
The Visitors In the Past
Until recently, no one knew that the first visitors to the Carse system were a Darrian expedition a few years before the Maghiz. The Darrians surveyed the system and landed on Carse before they returned home. When the Maghiz devastated the Darrian worlds, the data the expedition collected were lost.
But they left something on Carse. Before returning home, the expedition dropped a lot of junk and dead weight to save mass. To the old Darrians, this was useless trash, but it was (GURPS) TL 13 (Classic Traveller TL16) trash. To modern Darrians, this old junk is now a rare resource for their special fleet that carries the awe-inspiring star trigger that keeps the neighbors in line.
When a hard-copy of the old expedition reports is found, the Darrians decide to salvage the old junk. Discreetly, of course. And so, the PCs are one day approached by a pointy-eared man who hires them for a little treasure-hunt. The question is, what is now at the old trash-pit? A plantation? A hotel? The hiding place of Obermaat Olafsson (see above), who really dislikes Darrians and comes to conclusion that this must be an operation of the damn pointy-ears to capture him and his knowledge of Sword World technology?