Motive Force

by John W. Baichtal

Map This GURPS Space adventure is for four to six 100-125 point characters. They should have plenty of combat experience and have the reputation of being tough hombres. This adventure is set on Elmedine (Omega Pavonis Four), an isolated colony world. Elmedine has a population of 300,000, and is almost completely human in makeup. However, the sight of aliens will not provoke any alarm. How the party gets to the world is up to the GM to decide, but it is recommended that the party be trapped there, because of a quarantine placed on the world due to a dangerous outbreak of Vynder's Syndrome. The text of the adventure includes a number of newsfeeds, news programs broadcasted on holosets to everyone in the colony. If the party opts not to be part of the adventure, these newsfeeds can be used to add color to the campaign.

Enter the Party, Stage Left, Filling out Forms

The party is at a bureaucrat's office, filling out work permits so they can get mercenary and security jobs - the party is essentially trapped on Elmedine until the quarantine is lifted.

Elmedine seemed a pleasant enough resting stop after your last adventure. However, you curse your decision to stay here, for the whole planet was shortly thereafter slapped with a quarantine, due to the outbreak of some disease which is dropping people left and right. Its effects are a progressive loss of strength lasting for a month, resulting in a coma-like state which can lead to death - but none of you are experiencing any weakness as yet. To make some money and while away the hours before you can be off again, you are applying for a local mercenary's license. You are working your way through your third set of documents and permits when the application clerk starts yelling something about a vaccine and turns his holoset up.

Pav4 HOLO95 Newsfeed: "This is Safana Hasan. Though details are still quite sketchy, our reporters have monitored a significant movement of security personnel around the Al-Matar spaceport, coinciding with the long-awaited arrival of the CMS Jaruzelsky, a Luxembourg-class Starhauler which contains the desperately needed Vynder's Syndrome vaccine. Ambulances have been seen transporting port personnel to local hospitals, but so far the nature of the casualties - and the reasons for the injuries - is unknown. More information is upcoming, so stay keyed to HOLO95!"

Shortly after the Jaruzelsky touched down, a small group of escaped criminals forced their way aboard and took it over. At the time that the characters hear about the incident, the hijackers are still holed up in the Jaruzelsky, and in a short while they begin issuing their demands. They have said in an audio message that they would destroy the medicine unless their demands are met.

Fifteen minutes after the first newsfeed, another one is piped through:

Pav4 HOLO95 Newsfeed: "We go now to HOLO95 reporter Jeff Yamaguchi, who is only a hundred meters from the cargo ship. Jeff?"

"Safana, there are all the signs of a hijacking of the vaccine transport. I'm seeing bodies of numerous port personnel lying scattered around the gangway of the Jaruzelsky. Other people are crawling away, obviously wounded. Two security vehicles and a cargo truck are burning nearby. Safana, I talked to a port mechanic who said a ferocious firefight took place, with gunmen firing point blank at port officials and security, cutting them down without warning. Getting confirmation of this is a problem, because security and police headquarters are in chaos, with many personnel out sick with the Syndrome. But we hope to get more information soon because Governor Roberto Anton is en route. Jeff Yamaguchi, HOLO95."

Somewhat distracted by these events, you work on completing the labyrinthine forms before you, which proves to be a quarter-hour process. Toward the end, the phone buzzes and the clerk talks for a while on the other end. You hear, "Why yes, I have some here right now!" and his eyes glance over in your direction. He talks a bit more, and then disconnects and walks over to your table. "Folks, I may have a job for you!"

The PCs will probably not be surprised to hear that the "job" involves the hijacking. In essence, the party must serve as assistants and bodyguards to the Governor, who will be negotiating with the hijackers. The reason the party is used rather than local law-enforcement personnel is that all of the combat-veteran personnel are either dead or too sick to fight. Anton (who was actually the Lt. Governor of the colony until the Syndrome killed his boss) is an old soldier who has insisted on veteran gunslingers to back him up if the negotiations break down, because the hijackers are obviously pros.

The Vaccine

The medicine was sent three weeks ago from Tomoranda Station, a famous orbital hospital. The vaccine is enough to inoculate everyone on the planet, but to be absolutely certain, another load of vaccine was prepared three days later and sent by separate ship, in case anything happened to the first one en route. Theoretically, the hijacking could be ignored and the second ship's medicine used to help the population, but the Syndrome has reached critical stages and thousands of people are dying every day - three days more is an intolerable wait. The GM should play up the pressure on the party - have irate officials call them up every half hour demanding progress reports, and so on.

Negotiations, Part One

The meeting has been set for a VTOL landing circle in the Al-Matar spaceport, a short distance from the Jaruzelsky. The agreement is that Anton and his associates will go unarmed, but only one hijacker will be present. The following facts are at the party's disposal:

1. Six police sharpshooters are posted atop hangars to prevent the escape of the hijackers or to support a raid.

2. The hijackers are believed to be convicts who broke out of the undermanned prison. There were eight hijackers originally, but two were killed in the taking of the ship, leaving six, some of whom may be too wounded to fight. The hijackers carry police-issue weaponry.

3. The hijackers drove through a security checkpoint in a large truck, the sort which normally could carry five tons of cargo.

4. The bodies of the slain, including the portmaster, five security guards, two hijackers and two starship crewmen, lie next to the ship. Neither side can recover their dead until a truce is called. The weapons of these casualties remain scattered around the area, including at least two laser rifles and half a dozen pistols.

5. The Jaruzelsky normally carries a crew of six, so there must be four crewmen left alive inside the ship.

Pav4 HOLO95 Newsfeed: "This is Jeff Yamaguchi, reporting from the Al-Matar landing field where Governor Roberto Anton is preparing to meet with the hijackers of the CMS Jaruzelsky. Accompanying the governor are a number of plainclothes security officers, but no police or spaceport personnel as far as I can tell. At this time, there is no movement from the captured starship."

You approach the landing circle in landcars, obviously beating the hijacker delegation to the meeting. Governor Anton steps out and squints against the sun, peering across the shimmering tarmac to the Jaruzelsky 300 meters away. There is no sign of the hijacker. After about five minutes, a small, dark figure strides down the gangway and begins walking toward the landing circle, obviously not in a hurry. Finally the hijacker arrives. She is a skinny, scarred woman with black hair and tanned skin, wearing grimy prison blues and a police-issue reflec vest, with a laser pistol and knife belted to her waist and a pair of smoke grenades clipped to a chest harness. The oppressive heat has made her hair limp and speckled her brow with sweat. With a dramatic flourish, the woman removes her pistol and leaves it at the edge of the circle, before walking to the center to meet you.

The laser pistol is empty, in case a PC tries to grab it and use it. However, the hijacker has another laser at the small of her back, and as long as she faces the party at all times it will remain concealed. The woman introduces herself as "Ace," though her real name is Cypress Tramann. She has olive skin and black hair, and is thin and muscular in a wiry sort of way. She usually has a squinting and hostile expression on her face. If the party firmly insists Ace dump the knife, she will comply, grudgingly, and the same with the smoke grenades. She will not allow herself to be searched or detained.

Ace is an excellent fighter, and has a natural talent for machines and piloting. She is also a capable leader and wins the admiration of her associates with her toughness, cleverness and skill. Ace's main weakness is her terrible temper. In fights she kicks, screams, shoots and stabs until all her enemies are down. Only her excellent skills and instincts, as well as a great deal of luck, have allowed her to live as long as she has.

Ace has brought with her a list of demands. In return, Governor Anton will have his own list of things that the colonists need. Rather than presenting everything at once, Ace and Anton will offer one thing while requesting many concessions from the other side. The party will be briefed on what Anton will demand.

Ace's List

1. Remove the snipers from the vicinity of the Jaruzelsky.

2. Free the twelve imprisoned members of the Al-Sarukh revolutionary party* (a religious fundamentalist group seeking to overthrow the secular government).

3. Arrange for a ground truck with a cargo capacity of five tons to be brought to the ship.

4. Deliver a cash ransom amounting to $1 billion (!)**.

* Actually, the hijackers care nothing for this group or its politics, and they will make only a token effort to free them and will immediately agree to drop this demand in exchange for the smallest concession on the colonists' part.

** This is also negotiable. Cash gained in this enterprise is secondary to the hijackers' other goal, as described later in the adventure.

What She Has to Offer
1. The vaccine.

2. Four crewmen of the Jaruzelsky held captive but relatively healthy.

3. Allowing the bodies to be recovered.


Anton's List

1. Allow the bodies of the slain to be removed from the vicinity of the Jaruzelsky.

2. Release the hostages or at least permit their health to be checked by doctors.

3. Release the vaccine, or barring that, release a quantity as a goodwill gesture to treat individuals who are close to dying.

What He Has to Offer
1. Amnesty until the quarantine is lifted, then passage off-planet to a system nearby.

Obviously, these do not match up very well, and it will appear that much negotiation will be necessary to smooth out the wrinkles. Just as things are just getting started, however, HOLO95's ace reporter Jeff Yamaguchi tries to get close enough to hear what's going on, spooking Ace. Yamaguchi's stats are not presented here. The GM can build him on 80 points if necessary, but his only role in the adventure is to spark the gunfight that will put the party in the negotiator's seat.

Anton and the hijacker are still arguing about some aspect of the situation when you abruptly notice a man dressed in casual clothes, stealthily moving toward the landing circle - he doesn't look like a hijacker, and carries no weapon though he has a small black device in his hand, which he is pointing in your direction. Suddenly, Ace becomes aware of him, too. Perhaps she saw you glance over at him, or maybe she heard his quiet footsteps, but she seems genuinely surprised and angry.

"Betrayal!" she snarls, whipping out a laser from behind her back.

Ace draws her concealed gun and shoots the governor. For story purposes, this shot automatically hits and may either kill or wound the governor, but either way he is out of the scenario. If the party somehow prevents Ace from shooting at all, a hijacker shoots from the ship and hits Anton. Ace tosses her smoke grenades and runs for the Jaruzelsky, protected from the snipers by the smoke. If the party brought their own weapons (against orders), they can shoot at Ace, and perhaps kill her, though if they do that, the leader of the hijackers will destroy one crate of vaccine (there are five, total) and kill one hostage in revenge. Yamaguchi will not be injured in the fight unless a PC shoots him.

Pav4 HOLO95 Newsfeed: "This is Safana Hasan, with breaking news on the negotiations with the hijackers of the relief ship Jaruzelsky. There are reports of laser fire and at least one person on the official negotiating team has been rushed to the hospital, though the victim's identity is as yet unknown. However, unconfirmed reports indicate that the injured person may have been Governor Anton, though we must stress that this information has not been confirmed. Stay keyed to HOLO95."

Negotiations, Part Two

So few leaders are left after Anton's shooting that the party is asked to continue the negotiations. They have orders to attack the ship to free the vaccine if negotiations do not succeed in 24 hours. After the fracas in the landing circle, the repartee takes place via radio. Whether Ace escaped or not, the negotiator will be a man with a deep, booming voice, who will call himself "King." This is actually the leader of the hijackers, a pirate captain by the name of Kambr Matteus.

It is up to the party to negotiate. PCs feeling over their heads can call downtown for help, but with so many people in the advanced stages of Vynder's Syndrome, the party will not receive any aid. The best they can get is get permission to do "whatever it takes" to get the vaccine back, as 15,000 people will die in the three days it will take for the second shipment of vaccine to be delivered. If this means anything at all to the party they will be eager to help in any way they can.

At this point, the adventure cannot be clearly mapped out, because there are so many possibilities. Rather than listing out all the possible tangents of the negotiation process, that will be left up to the GM to ad-lib and only certain events and possible endings will be described. To assist the GM in this process, the following is a simplified explanation of the hijackers' motivations and tactics:

A month ago, a few days after the quarantine was declared, Captain Kambr Matteus barreled into the Omega Pavonis system in his ship, the Skyhawk, pursued closely by a trio of Confederation frigates. Just as he entered Elmedine's atmosphere and lost his pursuers (whose crews dared not break the quarantine), a laser bolt slammed into the Skyhawk and turned her light drive into a bonfire. Without the drive, she could not leave the atmosphere without being destroyed by the sentry bots in orbit, set to guard against people escaping the Syndrome.

Discouraged but not beaten, Matteus concealed his ship in the wilderness and trekked with his surviving crewmen to Elmedine City with the idea of stealing a light drive to re-equip the Skyhawk. Unfortunately, the local authorities had been alerted by the Confederation ships and easily captured the pirates, planning to hold them in prison until the quarantine was to be lifted. A day before the adventure begins, Matteus, his crew, and a bunch of vicious criminals murdered their guards and broke out of jail, and the captain convinced his surviving cohorts to make for the spaceport. The only FTL ship not in total lockdown was the Jaruzelsky.

Captain Matteus knew full well the furor that would be caused by taking the Jaruzelsky, but went ahead with it anyway. The plan was to attack the ship and strip it of its stardrive and be away before anyone knew what was happening. Unfortunately, there was a ten-man reception committee waiting for the vaccine and the simple raid turned into a raging gun battle. As the pirates swarmed aboard the Jaruzelsky, a guard's laser rifle turned the engine of their truck into flaming wreckage, leaving them no way to transport the bulky drive away from the spaceport. The pirates' backup plan was to fly the Jaruzelsky to safety but her captain was injured and comatose and only he has the key codes necessary to fly the ship. By the time Matteus had figured out what was happening, security forces had surrounded the ship and he was trapped. It was then that the pirates formulated a plan to hold the vaccine for ransom.

There were six crewmen aboard the Jaruzelsky, of whom four still live. Captain Rickman Gajemba was pistol-whipped into a coma, and his first mate and chief engineer slain. The three other crewmen are Aamasimu-Hnagahla (engineer's mate), Isoruku Terra (cargo officer) and Dr. Benjamin Lars (science/medical officer). These individuals will not be described in more detail, but if their stats are needed, the GM should build Gajemba on 125 points, Lars on 100, and Terra and Hnagahla on 70 points. These last three NPCs are only slightly wounded, but they are securely tied and under normal circumstances cannot help the party. Hnagahla is an alien, a Phylan (an insectoid humanoid).

Twists and Turns

The following are a number of plot elements that can be inserted to keep the party on their toes:

Isoruku Terra, one of the crewmen of the Jaruzelsky, escapes and starts running for the party. A laser blast from the ship leaves him wounded and helpless on the tarmac. Any attempt to rescue him will be greeted with a torrent of weapons fire from the ship. If rescued, Terra can describe all the pirates and give the party vital information about their motives.

The Phylan captive, Aamasimu-Hnagahla, dies. Though it was only slightly wounded, the stress of the fight and the subsequent imprisonment carried it into a condition which causes it to spontaneously give birth to four infant Phylans. It is a biological imperative in the race that a dying Phylan almost always reproduces asexually, its body mass nourishing the young as they develop in a matter of a few hours. Matteus will be talking to the party when in the background the party will hear laser blasts and shouts coming from inside the ship as the pirates panic (young Phylans are fast and dangerous-looking, though essentially harmless). This may cause the party to think that the pirates are fighting among themselves or prisoners have broken loose. If the party makes a dash for the gangway, the two pirates on duty at the door will fire their laser rifles at the party and call for help. If the party follows through with an attack at this point, it will be a bloody mess and a lot of innocent people may die - or the party could take the ship and recover the vaccine.

Once the pirates realize they are not dealing with colonists, they attempt to bribe the party. They will give the PCs an equal share of the money they get from the colonists ($1.2 million) if the party joins them and helps them escape. The party may agree with the pirates, genuinely or as a ploy, as they see fit.

As part of the negotiation process, the pirates agree to release one hostage. Down the gangplank walks one of the hijackers, Teodoro "Tibo" Mikaleyev, who says he is the cargo officer of the Jaruzelsky. If the party questions him, he will seem annoyingly dumb, and will not be able to supply any worthwhile intelligence on his "captors." Backing up Tibo's ploy is the fact that he was born with a facial deformity that makes him look like a simpleton. If the party leaves him alone, Tibo sneaks off and steals a truck big enough to haul the engine, and attempts to drive it to the ship.

Approximately 200 relatives of Syndrome victims band together and march on the Jaruzelsky, demanding the release of the vaccine. Unless the party can defuse the situation, the mob attacks the ship and is routed, and in the confusion, a couple of pirates manage to steal a truck of the right size. Unless the party can stop them, they quickly offload the engine and drive off, leaving the vaccine behind.

If the standoff lasts more than 24 hours, one of the escaped prisoners, Cathy Fong (see the section on the pirate crew) tries to slip off into the night, betraying her comrades. If the party keeps some sort of watch or sets alarms, they have a chance of catching her, and if they do, they can easily bully her into telling everything she knows of the pirates.

The party sees a dark form slipping across the field toward the Jaruzelsky. It is Jeff Yamaguchi, intrepid reporter, risking his life for an exclusive interview with the "terrorists." If the party can't stop him, he will board the ship and be taken hostage.


There are so many variables that it is impossible to plot out just one ending for this adventure. The pirates may get away scot free, or they could all be captured. The vaccine could be destroyed or rescued. Accordingly, a number of endings are presented here, and the GM should pick the one that most closely fits the situation.

The party receives word from the governor's office that the Syndrome situation has reached critical levels - too many people need the vaccine and hundreds die every hour. The party is ordered to attack the pirates and do everything possible to recover the vaccine.

If negotiations bog down, the pirates will attempt to steal a vehicle big enough to haul the star drive. Some of the pirates will jump out of the Jaruzelsky and start firing at people nearby, while two others sneak away and attempt to steal a truck. Once they are away, the other pirates will retreat back into the ship.

Those colony officials that remain deliver to the party a ransom of $1.2 million, the most they could scrape together. They agree to all of the pirate's demands vis-a-vis the truck. It is up to the party whether they want to risk capturing or killing the pirates or simply just follow the colonists' lead and let the pirates go free.

If the party negotiates in a tough manner, demanding a great deal but not giving much in return, the pirates finally agree to release three boxes of vaccine in exchange for the $1.2 million the colonists have provided. The three crates will be set out on the tarmac for the PCs to collect. However, one crate contains a huge tear gas bomb, and the other two will hold hijackers (Zero and Ginnett). When the party shows up, the bomb will go off, and the gas-masked pirates will jump out and try to capture the PCs' vehicle. The other pirates will pile out of the ship and assist. Unless the party is protected, they will suffer the effects of tear gas as described in the GURPS Basic Set, p. 132.

If the negotiations stretch on for more than 48 hours, the pirates will attempt to escape. The hostages will be used as human shields and the ship will be set on fire to provide cover from snipers. Obviously, this means that the pirates will not be able to escape with the light drive.

If the pirates can get a truck, they tie hostages to its exterior and all pile in with the light drive, shooting in all directions as they careen through the city. The vaccine is left on the tarmac, unharmed. The PCs will have to decide whether to chase after the pirates or simply grab the vaccine and save some lives.

The pirates request a doctor for Rickman Gajemba, the captain of the Jaruzelsky - the ship's medical officer, Dr. Lars, is a pharmacist along to take care of the vaccine and has no knowledge of helping coma victims. Assuming the party agrees, and doesn't try some sort of subterfuge, the doctor succeeds in bringing the captain out of his coma. The pirates immediately start torturing Gajemba in order to learn the key codes for operating the ship. Meanwhile, the doctor runs away and warns the party of what is happening. The party must immediately raid the Jaruzelsky or the pirates will simply fly the ship away.

The Hijackers

This is a group of ruthless convicts and cruel and desperate pirates but are more than simple targets for the PCs. They are cunning and well-led, and have a good supply of weapons and other equipment, enough to make a direct assault suicidal.

Kambr Matteus

ST 19, DX 12, IQ 14, HT 15/19

41 years old; auburn hair, blue eyes, pale skin; 5' 5", 350 lbs. - 250 points.

Advantages: Charisma +1, Combat Reflexes, Extra Hit Points +4, Heavy Planet Man, Language Talent +3, Toughness +1.

Disadvantages: Enemy - the Government, Fat, Odious Personal Habits (smelly cigars, thunderous belches), Overconfidence.

Quirks: always carries a holdout weapon, appreciative of loud belches, collects beer cans, favorite drink is a gin & tonic, hates being bored.

Skills: Astrogation-13, Beam Weapons-17, Brawling-16, Computer Operation-15, Fast Draw (pistol)-11, Free Fall-11, Gambling-13, Guns-14, Knife-11, Leadership-17, Parachuting-12, Piloting (Starship)-15, Speed Load (laser)-13, Tactics-12, Vacc Suit-13.

Equipment: Reflec suit over prison blues, laser pistol, gas mask, 2 knives (belt and boot), 5 laser clips, 2 tear gas grenades.

Matteus is from a heavy planet, and consequently is immensely strong. Always a fan of sports and games of chance, he took up a life of piracy for the sheer excitement of it, though he could easily make an honest living if he could stand the boredom. As a consequence of this need for excitement, he often makes decisions that are based on alleviating his boredom rather than doing the right thing. Nevertheless, he is a powerful and cunning opponent. From the beginning of his adult life, Kambr has been a ship captain. His wealthy family purchased him his own ship when he turned 18, and though his fortunes have risen and fallen over the years, he has never been without a ship - until now.

Kambr trusts no one completely, but likes Cypress and Tibo a great deal. He respects Zero's toughness but fears his indiscriminate rage. Fong and Ginnett are tools to be used then discarded.

Cypress Tramann

ST 14, DX 13, IQ 10, HT 15

30 years old; Black hair and olive skin; 6'1", 100 lbs. - 150 points.

Advantages: Acute Hearing +1, Alertness +2, Charisma +2, Combat Reflexes, High Pain Threshold, Luck (15 pt.), Strong Will +2.

Disadvantages: Berserk, Enemy (Government, Rarely Shows Up), Poor, Skinny, Social Stigma (Space Gypsy), Stubbornness.

Quirks: Avoids talking about family; considers herself evil; keeps track of number of kills (15); likes arguing in a loud voice; morose.

Skills: Agronomy-9, Beam Weapons-16, Fast Draw (pistol)-12, Free Fall-12, Knife Throwing-12, Knife-14, Mechanic (agricultural machines)-9, Piloting-15, Streetwise-9, Vacc Suit-12.

Equipment: Reflec vest over prison blues, 2 laser pistols, dagger, 2 smoke grenades, 3 laser clips.

Cypress was born in a family of transient laborers who shipped from one system to another, looking for low-end agricultural jobs to be done. In a crackdown against crime committed by such drifters, the government of one planet arrested her family and put them in a forced-labor camp where they have languished for the last ten years. In the meantime, Cypress, who avoided capture, has been plotting to win their escape, without much result. Her lack of success has made this woman surly and hostile. She is the Skyhawk's pilot.

Tramann respects the captain's strength and cunning, but as far as she is concerned he is still a slumming rich boy, just like the ones who imprisoned her family. She likes Tibo and considers him a true friend. She thinks Zero is a loose cannon and will arrange for an "accident" to eliminate him if they both survive. Ginnett is an annoying thug and Fong is a creepy nerd, and while Cypress would not directly hurt either one (except in self defense) she would be pleased if they met unfortunate ends.


ST 10, DX 13, IQ 16, HT 4/12

17 years old; pale, blotched skin, sandy hair; 5' 5", 115 lbs. - 150 points.

Advantages: Combat Reflexes, Danger Sense, High Pain Threshold, Peripheral Vision, Toughness+1, Extra Hit Points +8, Hard to Kill +5.

Disadvantages: Terminally Ill, Ugly Appearance, Odious Personal Habit (doesn't bathe, -3 to reactions), Youth, Berserk, Bully.

Skills: Astrogation-15, Beam Weapons-20, Breath Control-13, Computer Operation-16, Escape-11, Fast Draw (pistol and knife)-14, Free Fall-16, Gunner (starship's weapons)-14, Guns-17, Karate-14, Knife Throwing-15, Knife-16, Literature-14, Mechanic (stardrive)-15, Physiology-13, Pilot (large spacecraft)-12, Stealth-12, Vacc Suit-15.

Equipment: Riot shotgun (equal to a Remington 870, described in the GURPS Basic Set, except that it has a clip holding 20 shells), laser pistol and 3 spare clips, knife, reflec jacket over prison blues, gas mask, two tear gas grenades.

Zero is a rangy, scarred killer with sickly grayish skin and wiry, light brown hair. His eyes are best described as "scary." This pathetic young man is the son of a female death-row inmate on a distant world. Shortly before his mother was executed, she gave birth to him. A prison doctor into "unorthodox" scientific pursuits managed to legally adopt the baby for the sole purpose of experimenting on him, and over the course of many years, Patient 3Z (which was Zero's sole designation) was pumped full of experimental medicines and synapse patterns (memories) belonging to other people. Specifically, the doctor was researching the possibility of teaching skills by direct transference of memories. At the age of 17, Patient 3Z escaped and ultimately joined Matteus' pirate ship, picking the name Zero for himself. He is a very dangerous person in many ways, with no cognizance of laws and no qualms whatsoever about killing. Some of the memories implanted in him involved weapons use and martial arts, so he is quite skilled as well as cool and confident in battles. On the other hand, his body was terribly damaged by all the experimentation. Zero's skin is blotched and discolored, and he is frequently bedridden by a variety of sicknesses. A doctor, who treated him for wounds suffered in a gunfight, said he has less than two years to live - it is only a matter of time before Zero's abused brain and body simply quit.

Zero hates everyone. He remembers every joke and insult directed at him by his crewmates, and is saving up his revenge - the first to die will be Tramann, for rejecting his advances.

Teodoro "Tibo" Mikaleyev

ST 13, DX 11, IQ 10, HT 14

31 years old; light brown hair, brown eyes; 5' 10", 180 lbs. - 100 points

Advantage: Combat Reflexes.

Disadvantages: Dyslexia (-5 pt.), Shyness (-5 pt.), Stuttering, Ugly Appearance (-10 pt.).

Skills: Acrobatics-9, Beam Weapons-15, Brawling-13, Fast Draw (pistol)-12, Force Sword-10, Freefall-11, Knife Throwing-10, Knife-13, Parachuting-11, Tactics-8, Vacc Suit-9.

Equipment: Reflec vest over police cammos, combat helmet with gas mask, laser rifle, force sword, 2 tear gas grenades, knife, 5 laser clips.

Tibo Mikaleyev is a average sized man with pale skin and a brown buzz-cut. He usually has an idiotic expression on his face. This apparent simpleton is a long-standing member of Kambr's crew. Originally, the captain allowed Tibo to join so he could be used as cannon fodder, but in fight after fight he survived, and since then everyone has grown fond of him. Kambr no longer sends him on suicide missions. Actually, Tibo is smarter than he looks and acts. A genetic disease has given him a babylike face and makes him talk a 4-year-old, but most of his brain is normal and he is pretty smart outside of social situations. In particular, he is a cunning and deadly warrior, his skills honed by a great deal of practice.

Tibo pretends to like everyone, but he has feelings just like everyone else. The captain is like a father to him, but Tibo can't forget all the suicide missions he was sent on just because of his handicap. He has very strong mixed feelings about Matteus. On the other hand, he is totally in love with Tramann, despite the fact that she treats him like a little boy, not the man he is. Zero and Ginnett are dumb killers - he's seen them come and go. Tibo has been fooled by Fong's beauty and thinks she is nice.

Cathy Fong

ST 8, DX 11, IQ 14, HT 11

35 years old; pale olive skin, brown hair, brown eyes; 5' 2", 95 lbs. - 80 points

Advantages: Attractive (5 point), Danger Sense.

Disadvantages: Cowardice, Greed, Convict (-10).

Skills: Accounting-17, Beam weapons-9 (default), Computer Operation-16, Computer Programming-17, Forgery-12, Free Fall-10, Mathematics-14, Pilot (shuttle)-11, Savoir-Faire-14, Skiing-10.

Equipment: Reflec vest over police-issue cammos, gas mask, laser pistol.

Cathy is a plump woman born on Earth. She has light brown hair and pale skin, and wears rainbow-tinted contact lenses. Cathy was imprisoned for skimming money from the Elmedine orphan's fund, and looks forward to 5-10 years in the joint plus a lifetime of social ostracism. Thus, she chose to join Matteus. Fong dislikes most of the crew of the Skyhawk, and violence makes her nervous. She does like money, however, a lot. Cathy will do anything for money, and doesn't care how many people suffer as a result. This is the hook Kambr has over her - he has promised her a great deal of money if his plot is successful.

Fong is careful around Matteus and Tramann, fearing their toughness and unity. She thinks Tibo is retarded, and has not realized how smart he really is. Cathy is totally afraid of Ginnett and Zero, because they seem on the edge, ready to explode into violence at any provocation.

Hakeem Ginnett

ST 15, DX 11, IQ 9, HT 13

33 years old; dark skin, black hair, brown eyes; 6' 4", 225 lbs. - 80 points

Advantage: High Pain Threshold.

Disadvantages: Bully, Laziness, Odious Personal Habit (swears), Social Stigma (convict -10).

Skills: Beam Weapons-14, Brawling-12, Free Fall-10, Streetwise-10.

Equipment: Black SWAT jumpsuit, gas mask, laser rifle, laser pistol, 1 extra pistol clip, 2 tear gas grenades.

Ginnett is a punk who broke out of prison with Matteus. Hakeem's story is a typical one for a convict: he came from a broken family and got into trouble a lot as a kid, and at the age of 18 gunned down a businessman for the few bucks in his wallet. For the next 14 years Hakeem sat in jail, and a few days after his release he shot another man, ending up in jail again. Matteus has promised him a place among the Skyhawk's crew, but in truth, Hakeem would make a terrible crewman. He has no technical skills, and doesn't take orders worth a damn, and refuses to do the few tasks he is capable of doing - cleaning, for instance. If he were to die, no one alive would shed a tear over him.

Ginnett has undeveloped social skills, which causes him to think in immature ways: he practically worships Matteus as the embodiment of the perfect man - immensely strong, ruthless, and dominant among lesser men and women. However, he is careful to disguise this respect with an ever-present attitude. Hakeem automatically assumes he is tougher than Zero (a kid), Tibo (a "retard") and Cathy and Cypress (two women) and foolishly sees himself as the captain's right hand.


For maximum entertainment of everyone involved, the GM should encourage roleplaying and negotiation rather than immediate violence. Conversely, the players should not be badgered into any one path. The GM's job is to roleplay the NPCs and make sure everyone has fun.

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

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