A Patron Encounter for GURPS Traveller
by Hans Rancke-Madsen
The PCs are approached by a young woman in her early twenties. She is quaintly dressed, in the fashion of some back-country province, and seems unused to the hustle and bustle of a startown. She presents herself as Katharina Alderon May and explains that she is the last surviving descendant of a well-know hero of the Civil War, Lord Kevin Alderon. She has inherited a chestful of his belongings, including his medals, his dress sword, his gauss pistol, and his diary. She has been told that there is a lot of interest in Civil War memorabilia and is sure that these items must be worth a lot of money. She is unsure of how to go about selling them, however, and is willing to let the PCs have half of whatever the stuff will bring if they will help her sell it and make sure she is not cheated.
Art by andi jones
Referee's informationKevin Alderon is indeed well-known. He was Arbellatra's flag captain at the end of the 2nd Frontier War and followed her to the Imperial Core where he eventually became Grand Admiral of the Fleets and 1st Space Lord. Upon Arbellatra's death in 666 he retired to Kinorb where he lived out his remaining years in obscurity. About 50 years ago he was immortalized by an author named D.T. Woodsman who wrote a semi-biographical bestseller about him and followed up with a dozen sequels (All of which have since been turned into smash holo-dramas).
There are lots of stories about Kevin Alderon and his exploits. One, mentioned in Enli Iddukagan's Lost Treasure Ships of the Abyss Rift, tells of how he was stationed on Asmodeus at the outbreak of the 2nd Frontier War and sent off with the planetary treasury when the Zhodani approached. While jumping from Denotam to Phlume, his ship, the Muskrat, misjumped and emerged deep inside the Abyss Rift (the near-empty area of space in Lanth subsector) with thrashed jump engines. By an astounding piece of luck he wound up within detection range of a misjumped merchant ship with functioning jump drives but empty tanks and managed to get his whole crew away on that. The Muskrat has never been recovered and still floats around somewhere, with an entire planetary treasury in its hold.
The story is quite implausible, especially the bit about finding the drifting merchant ship, but according to Enli Iddukagan it is not impossible, especially in the Abyss where jumpspace seems to play havoc with the laws of chance. It is a matter of record that the Muskrat departed Asmodeus under the command of Kevin Alderon and that it was subsequently declared missing. It is also a matter of record that Alderon was assigned to another ship two months later. Iddukagan's own theory is that Muskrat, a 20,000 T fleet repair ship, was carrying a smaller jump-capable ship along and repairing it en route.
At least one person passionately believes in the story. It is Ser Vitus Dromon, a descendant of the Muskrat's marine officer. The story of the vast treasure has been handed down in his family from generation to generation, growing ever bigger in the process. He is a wealthy man with enough money to hire a lot of thugs and to finance an expedition into the Abyss. At some point he will hear of the diary and resolve to get his hands on it any way he can. Since the diary is likely to fetch six digit offers from some big publishing firms, he may be unable or unwilling to outbid these rivals. His other options are to steal the diary or to go into partnership with the PCs (In the latter case, his intentions are to cheat then at some future time. He wants all the money and is quite irrational about it).
Adventure Seeds1. All the items are fake, and so is Katharina May's wide-eyed innocence. She is using the PCs as cover and will attempt to abscond with all the money gained whenever she judges that further gains are unlikely or too risky. The diary does not mention the ship.
2. As 1, but the diary does mention the ship. All astrographical data are vague and refer to a randomly selected spot in the Abyss.
3. Katharina is genuine and so are the items. The diary mentions the ship, but carefully avoids giving useful astrographical data.
4. As 3, but the diary does mention that Alderon reported the location of the ship to his superiors and that the treasure has been recovered. This can be verified by digging through declassified naval files, but it's not easy (Enli Iddukagan missed it).
5. As 3, but the location is mentioned. Unfortunately Alderon did report the location (without noting it in his diary) and the navy sent a ship to recover the treasure. There may or may not be some minor items of value left in the derelict.
6. As 5, but in the confusion of the war the report was lost in the files and never followed up upon. The ship is still floating around deep inside the Abyss Rift. The Referee must decide for himself how big a part of the Asmodeus treasury was in still-useful precious metals and Imperial credits and how much in now-useless Asmodean currency. Also, the serial numbers of the Imperial bills may be on record somewhere, in which case Imperial naval agents may show up about a year after the PCs start spending the money and demand most of it back.
Article publication date: December 10, 1999
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