Hall of the Mountain Grill

A GURPS Traveller Setting

by Mike Kelly

Art by andi jones

. . . And in the groove, by gate and hill, midst merry throng and market clatter, stood the Hall of the Mountain Grill where table strained 'neath loaded platter . . .

Hall of the Mountain Grill is an adventure for GURPS Traveller and uses information from Behind the Claw, the Spinward Marches sourcebook. However, it can be easily adapted to any space game very easily.

Rumors abound in the Spinward Marches of a most unusual hunting lodge located on Jesedipere (3001-Aramis Sub sector). Jesedipere is an Earth-like world, with a standard oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere and 58% surface water. The climate is warm, and the world has a class 3 starport. The world's population is low, with only 4,100 humans and 3,500 Vargr currently in residence.

The government of Jesedipere is Anarchy, and the downport area is a famous den of iniquity. Almost anything can be found there-for a price. Rumors gathered in the downport area and elsewhere in the Spinward Marches will cause the travellers to wonder about the "Hall of the Mountain Grill" -- a hunting lodge located on a deserted continent of the planet completely away from what little civilization there is on this planet.

Hall of the Mountain Grill The rumors say that the "Hall of the Mountain Grill" hunting lodge was built out of the hull of a Akkigish-class Subsidized Merchant that crash-landed on the planet some 20 to 40 years ago. (A basic description of this starship is in GURPS Traveller, page 146.) Some enterprising Vargr found the ship's hull basically intact and decided to convert it into a hunting lodge. It's out-of-the-way location in the middle of a forest with huntable local wildlife made it ideal for that purpose. Currently, well-to-do Vargr and humans stay at the lodge and enjoy the fine food and luxurious accommodations while hunting the local game. The lodge is located at the base of a mountain range and offers an excellent view of the snow capped peaks. A small flat area of forest has been cleared to allow Safari Ships to take off and land. The clearing would be considered to be a GURPS Space Class I Starport (p. 122). The owner of the lodge is an older male Vargr named Kverokh. A seasoned and expert hunter, Gherohl is also an ex-corsair. He retired from the corsair band Touzagh when becoming a professional hunter seemed to be both a safer and more profitable way to earn a living. The money he saved while a corsair allowed him to setup the Hall of the Mountain Grill hunting lodge.

As the band of adventurers approach the lodge, the first thing that they will notice is how intact the ship is for having crash landed there. From the outside, there seems to be no major structural damage at all. A large ramp leads up to the stern of the ship, where the aft cargo section is. The aft cargo section is a large room, approximately 45 feet square. This room is the main meeting room, and the walls are covered with animal head trophies of various alien beasts. The room is filled with Vargr and human hunters, sipping drinks and bragging about their latest kills. The furniture and room appointments are of very fine quality, indicating high wealth. The drinks and food are expensive, but of the very finest quality. The hunters are an excellent source of rumors, and also make excellent patrons. Also, this lodge can serve as a great place for wealthy travellers to spend excess credits.

The ship's galley is located behind the main meeting room and still serves as a galley, but now it has a master Vargr chef cooking exotic meals made from fresh kills. The food is very expensive, and probably the best food to be had in the Spinward Marches. The very finest wines are also available to accompany the excellent cuisine.

A large spiral staircase is located in one corner of the room that leads to the second floor of the lodge. On this floor are 13 suites, each one adorned with animal trophies and filled with the plushest furniture and latest gadgets. While luxurious, each suite is small -- only 10' x 13'. One suite is much larger than the rest (20' x 10'), and commands a premium price. It is usually reserved by wealthy patrons well in advance.

In addition to the 13 hunting suites, the upper floor has another two recreational lounges, one forward of the suites and one aft. These lounges are smaller than the downstairs lounge (15' x 30' aft and 20' x 40' forward), but otherwise similar. The forward lounge is dominated by a huge video screen that covers one wall completely. On this wall, films of various successful hunting expeditions is shown. This room also serves as a casino; various games of chance are constantly run here.

A small spiral staircase is located in the aft second floor lounge, leading up through the ceiling of the lodge. Located on top of the lodge is a special hunting launch that was converted from the standard 10-ton ship's launch described on p. 139 of GURPS Traveller. Major changes include a retractable roof to allow open air shooting, and a large game capture tank. The hunting launch will seat six hunters in comfort in customized hunting chairs that can rotate freely. In addition, the chair arms are braced to absorb recoil (for weapons that have them) and to aid in aiming.

On the first floor, behind the the galley, the forward cargo hold has been converted into large capture tanks to hold the hunter's game. There are two large capture tanks (10' x 20'), and they are accessed through special fittings to transfer game directly from the hunting launch through the port and starboard cargo doors.

A fine example of huntable local game would be the "Destier Deer" (GURPS Space Bestiary. p. 32). The Destier Deer is a large, noble beast, standing about six feet high at the shoulder. Bucks have low, curving horns. Colonists on other worlds have tamed these animals and used them as riding beasts, much like horses on Terra. If these wild Destier Deer were to be caught alive and sold off-world, they would bring a very high price.

ST40-50 Speed/Dodge 14/7 Size 3
DX 5 PD/DR 0/0 Weight 1,500 Ibs.
IQ: 15 Damage 1d+2 cr
HT: 15/21 Reach C

The travellers should acquire suites (cr 200-300 per night) if they plan on staying in the lodge. Staying in the lodge is not a bad idea, even if they brought their own ship with them, for the privileges of the lodge are available only to those who rent a suite. This includes the organized hunting expeditions. Drinks bought in the lodge are cr 10-30 each and meals are cr 40-90 each. The party should be encouraged to meet their fellow hunters and mingle. As they mingle, they can pick up new contacts, make deals, find patrons and hear rumors.

Some sample rumors, which can be true or false depending on the GM's whim, and can be used for anything from local flavor to a full-blown adventure:

The Most Dangerous Game

The Vargrs hunt humans from the lodge! In the wee hours, several Vargr slip away in the hunting launch for a truly challenging hunt: A human being captured by the Vargr and released in the middle of the forest. There is even a rumor that these hunted humans even find their way into the Vargr master chef's best meals!

Buried Treasure

When the ship crash landed years ago, the surviving crew removed the cargo from the ship and hid it inside nearby caves. The crash site was remote, and since all communication equipment was destroyed on impact, the remaining crew eventually died off. The ship was originally a Vargr pirate ship, and when it was finally discovered, the salvaged cargo was valuable enough to pay for the restorations and conversion of the crashed ship into a hunting lodge. One intact cargo container, however was missed by the salvagers. This cargo container is hidden deep inside one of the many nearby caves, and could contain anything the GM needs for his campaign.

The PCs could be hired by an aging hunter to help secretly retrieve the cargo container, or they could discover the container themselves while chasing some game into the cave. One suggestion for the cargo: military items that are hard to come by, like 20 suits of Improved Battle Dress with matching FGMP-12 energy weapons. (GURPS Traveller, pp. 115 and 118). The street value of this cargo is very high, but double or even triple value could be had on the black market because of their military pedigree.

Forced Retirement

The owner of the hunting lodge was a crew member of the pirate ship when it crash landed! He knew he wanted to retire from the dangerous corsair band he was a member of, so he sabotaged the ship, silenced the communication equipment and using his superior hunting and weapon skills, killed off the rest of the crew before they even knew what was happening. This would also explain the lack of crash damage on the ship's hull. He then hid the bodies and the cargo when he landed the ship in the middle of an uninhabited continent.

Again, while hunting, the travellers come across some intact cargo containers filled to the brim with valuable cargo. The party must figure out a way to remove the cargo without alerting anyone to what they're up to.

Hide in Plain Sight

The ship is still an operational pirate ship! This would also explain the intact hull. What better place to hide a corsair ship than in plain view. During the winter season, when there is no hunting due to the extreme cold and everything is covered with snow, the ship works the rich merchant routes in search of victims. Before the hunting season begins, the ship returns to its "crash site" and sets up shop again. Most of the Vargr hunters aboard the ship would be pirates, who also enjoy local hunting during the "off" season. Possible ways for the adventures to catch on to this is through overhearing conversation, or blundering into one of the ship's many restricted areas. If the corsairs find out that the adventures know their true identities, they will try to kill them.

Bring 'Em Back Alive

An enterprising merchant wants to capture some the Destier Deer alive to take off-world and breed elsewhere. This would be a very profitable cargo, for the deer are very much in demand on other planets. However, the local hunters would object because of the reduction of the native population, and the lodge owners would definitely object to anything that would threaten their monopoly. The merchant, with the help of the party, must capture the deer and get them off planet without being detected.

Article publication date: October 8, 1999

Copyright © 1999 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to webmaster@sjgames.com.