by Matt Kolokowsky
Remember, as BattleMaster, you are in control of your character's money supply. There are many things that just happen in life that can affect a bank account.
If you think that they have too much money on their hands, don't you think that the neighbourhood thief would notice? There are reasons that successful adventurers leave the slums. The door and window locks are far to easy to pick. What if characters were awakened to find someone pointing an AK-57 in their face while an accomplice robs the characters of everything that they own? Even banks aren't theft proof. Deposits may be insured, and the amounts paid to those who are insured vary widely by planet.
What if the party doesn't find any work for a few months? Characters still need to pay rent, utility, food, and entertainment bills, income tax, etc. . .
Considering all of the people that characters kill in cold blood, some next of kin may file a lawsuit against the characters for a "wrongful death". Even if the presently deceased was trying to hack of the character's head with an axe at the time, lawyers still need to get paid.
Not all modules have a pay off. Some people are desperate enough to hire an adventuring party, even if they don't have the cash to pay them. When it comes time to pay, they have disappeared to somewhere else . . .
Some flights crash. Its a fact of life. If the flight that the characters happen to be on crashes 1000 miles from the nearest town, it seems like they have quite a trek to make before they reach civilisation, and nobody's going to pay them to do it.
On the opposite side, sometimes windfalls can fall in the character's lap. Bank errors can happen in both directions, relatives die and leave inheritances. Once characters have been around a while, beginning characters may approach them to teach them a new skill. Newspapers and magazines are often looking for brave adventurers to interview. People who write mini-series and movies sure wouldn't mind knowing a true story to tell to the violence-craving viewing public. They just might be willing to pay for such a narration.
Are you're looking to write some of your own modules, but lack new ideas? Try some of the following scenarios:
Anachronistic People For A Better Yesterday (A.P.F.A.B.Y.), a group of people re-creating history are looking for adventurers to attend the Annual Irik-Dati (Colonisation Festival) on the Time Jester. The Time Jester is an authentic replica of an Eridani sailing vessel of the type popularly used for colonisation in their middle age equivalent. There will be about 4,000 people of mixed races on board. The Irik-Dati is a one week cruise, filled with fencing and fighting tournaments, calligraphy, cooking/brewing, and bardic competitions, all with pageantry galore. There will also be free classes given, on topics ranging from weaving, sewing, brewing, medieval games, proper technique in using a sword or bow, etiquette, cathedral construction, tapestry design, how to play the harp, drum, and recorder, history of different cultures, and other topics dealing with the medieval time period (1000 - 1600 A.D. on Earth). Characters taking appropriate classes can learn a useful thing or two (-1 cost on their next level of the skill).
Now the down side. This isn't a leisure cruise for everyone. One of the 4,000 people on board has anonymously sent death threats against Queen Cheeka Towaga. The characters are in charge of finding out who and protecting the queen. The characters must be willing to keep out of sight, as the Queen does not want any protector besides the one ceremonial one. Queen Towaga points out that she has been chosen to rule from trial by combat, and can thus defend herself from any adversary. Only tech 1 weapons and armour permitted on board in order to promote the right scene.
The Real Deal - Trak, a Python Lizard of no particular note, is quite upset from a few past A.P.F.A.B.Y. conventions and events, and was devastated when the queen took her throne. He will attempt different methods of assassination until one works - the first night he will blow a hole in the hull of the ship below the water line to make it sink. Trak knows that he can swim well, but the cats tend to sink. Trak is not concerned that explosives are not from the acceptable time period. The crew of the Time Jester will seal the bilge to prevent the ship from sinking. The bilge, accessible only from the underwater hole, will become Trak's base of operations. During the third day, he will throw a barrel onto the queen as she inspects the deck, throwing her overboard. The queen can not swim, and will need assistance to re-board the Time Jester. Towaga will blame her inability to re-board on her parade outfit. On the third night, Trak will use his ioken to shoot at the queen at a ceremonial ball. If that fails, he will wear plate mail and carry his ioken around the ship, hoping to get a second shot. Note that about 1/3 of the people on board have armour or weapons. Rumi- Draxi, an Eridani, is the ceremonial protector. He won the position by combat. If approached properly, he may be of a lot of assistance.
Characters wake up chained to a wall. They have no clue where they are. . . or who they are! (ie: The BM hands out totally blank character sheets).
Note: this makes for a good convention module - as the characters know nothing, and have nothing, the players don't need any explanation about the game or about the equipment that they don't have.
The Real Deal - The characters were hired to track down some missing people. Anarchists (with a hint of Arachnid presence) captured both the characters and the missing people. They are being used as guinea pigs. The Anarchists tried to suck out their memories (and thus skills), record them on an enormous computer, then to copy the skills and put them into another character's head. They have been partially successful - They were able to suck out the characters' memories, record them on a computer, but they have not been able to put them into a test subject. Although all character sheets start blank, if the memories are accessed the right way, they will come back to the character. In other words, if a skill is tried in a realistic situation, the player finds out if the character has it or not! Characters will have to try to find crude armour, weapons (an iron pipe is a lot better than nothing!), and miscellaneous items. Experience points should be given based not only on escape from the anarchists and role playing, but on how many statistics and skills the players find out about.
One day, all Chatelian characters (or Chatelian neighbours of characters) are bugged by many minds in the area, even when there is nobody around. A Ram Python (named Bill) will knock on the character's door, announcing triumphantly "I'm Bill!". The next morning, all phones can not make or get any calls. All radio and TV stations have the same thing on, again and again - an advertisement for a job, specifically for the party. No contact information is given. The broadcast stations not only have no knowledge of this pirate signal, but seek out the party and blame them for it, threatening a lawsuit. On the third day, the character's phone does not stop ringing - the person calling does a bad western accent.
The Real Deal - There are many agitators in the character's area. Agitators are incorporeal beings with a great control over radio and TV waves (and the microwave waves that the telephone relay stations use). The Agitators heard of the characters in a news broadcast about one of their previous exploits (they hear all stations at the same time). They learned how to speak common through listening to movies, hence the bad accent. They tell the characters of many who are in their village disappearing. They offer to teach those who would stop the unknown kidnapper. They are able to teach characters (even those without matrix use) the matrixes signal boost, transmission jam, etc. . .
Arachnids perfected the technique of stealing thoughts from a body and storing it as computer information. Unfortunately for them, with all of the memories of lives stored inside, their memory storage computer became sentient. It created a few robots to suck out memories of the arachnids and cohorts, and partnered with Meniscus, ("The Slum Killer"), a Tza Zen who was in the area. Meniscus is known for using many different manipulations of the essence transfer matrix on drunken bums to steal their lives, leaving the corpses lying in the alleys and gutters.
Meniscus and the computer overthrew the arachnids. The computer got the Arachnid's memories, and the Tza Zen got the bodies. Meniscus experimented with and perfected a re-animation technique. Recently, the Tza and the Arachnid robots had a large disagreement, which escalated into an all-out war. The robots range around in search of memories, as per their programming. They are not programmed to identify the targets. The agitators are just innocent victims, caught in the crossfire. The process of stealing an agitator's mind causes them to dissipate into thin air.
By the way, someone ELSE asked for Bill to do some manual labour. Bill forgot who it was and what they wanted, and is going door to door to find out. He is absolutely convinced that he is helpful and needed until persuaded otherwise. Bill will be happy and exuberant in doing anything that is requested. Bill will view ridiculously dangerous tasks as a verbal joke, not a request or order. He has nothing to do with the module except add humour value.
The characters are hired on to protect a convoy going through the wilderness. On a barren hillside in the wilderness, the ground caves in, swallowing up the entire convoy.
The Real Deal - The party has fallen through the roof of Minikow Mall, a two-level shopping mall. It was covered by a volcanic explosion 80 years ago, and forgotten. There is an exit to what was the roof (it's now ground level) that is hidden from the outside. It was found by some drug smugglers, who are using one of the anchor stores as a hideout and stash.
Climbing out the way that they fell in is impossible - the edges of the hole will not support weight.
The mall also contains beasts who found their way in years ago, and have not found their way out yet. Some of the stores are a pet store (survival of the fittest!) A bank (with a vault), a general store that sells everything from duct tape to mining explosives, a small nuclear power station (still operational), a stationary store selling cream-filled cake like snacks (as fresh as ever!).
Futisawa is a city undergoing growth at an immense rate - Emcee Foods has opened a large production plant in this lazy town, looking for cheap land, cheap labour, and the proximity of farms to get products from. This sudden influx of jobs has created a housing boom. The sheriff of Futisawa, Sheriff Nottingham, has located Mecademia Phentari, a fugitive from justice (wanted dead or alive). Mecademia has killed 44 people, and the next of kin put a hefty price on her head. As the 4 man police force is unable to capture her by themselves, they propose a partnership. The police have the local connections, the computers (with their databases), the law, and the crime fighting equipment, but the party must be the ones to put their lives on the line - the firepower. Upon their arrival in the spaceport, the fugitive makes her presence known - a laser shot that kills the sheriff, then she attempts to blast the characters as well. Mecademia will try to take out whoever or whatever is on her tail, being the hunter instead of the hunted, and the party already made the mistake of being seen with the sheriff. At least the party has the cooperation of the police - until the characters bother John Q. Taxpayer too much. Will tempers rise to overflow, or will the party catch the fugitive and cash in?
The Real Deal - There are actually 3 fugitives acting in concert, all of whom are wanted dead or alive, and there are people willing to pay to see it happen. They moved here due to the large growing population, and the lack of police.
The first fugitive is Zazzir, an Andorian. As with all races, some andorians are nice, some are just downright evil. Zazzir falls totally in the latter group. Zazzir just loves to get knowledge through taking over people's bodies. His most famous exploits include wiping through 56 grandparents in a retirement home while they slept one night. He is also the prime suspect in the similar wipeout all 39 inmates of The Nakur Prison for the Criminally Insane.
Excalibur, an Orion, is fond of cheap explosions and the terror that they cause. Even an M-75 grenade can cause big explosions in a gas station, or a lot of terror in a movie theatre, under a moving train, or on a city street during rush hour. If Excalibur notices the party looking for him, he will phone in a few anonymous tips to the police, accusing the party of the explosions.
Mecademia Phentari is the ruthless slaughterer that her race adores. She kills because she LIKES it. She is known for pegging off construction workers with the mentality of "They are ASKING to be shot if they are unarmed, unarmoured, and they even go so far as to show a good outline against the sky! Besides, it's so fun to watch them fall. . " Partially influenced by Excalibur, she has recently grown fond of pegging people driving oil trucks down the highway. "It adds a nice explosion to ensure the kill."
The party is hired by Vin Linsing, representing AMC. They are conducting a "Rural Re- organisation Project" on the planet of Ramen. Their project is to reorganise the hostile creatures in the jungles, hills, and swamps into fertiliser for farms. The project leaders assign the characters to systematically cleanse an area of 250 square miles of jungle and swamp. In this area is a civilisation of surprisingly advanced Neanderthals. They have roads, good military tactics, a lot of traps to destroy the unwary, and other advances that they do not have the brain power to think of. The roads lead to an enormous, ornate temple.
The Real Deal - Fifty years ago, an Orion couple stole the prototype of Bohemian Class Star Cruiser. During their escape, the craft was heavily damaged going into warp. It crashed here. When the natives saw the creatures that fell from they sky, they asked if the falling ones were gods, and of course the Orions said "YES!". As the years passed, the gods (with their mighty weaponry and heavy armour) led their subjects in conquering and civilising the area. The gods have aged, and have had kids. Now the Orions and their people are out to stop the invaders! Note: the Orions are willing to make a deal if approached the right way.
The characters answer an advertisement: "WANTED - Big guys with guns for a one week road trip to G'Kar. Contact Mr. Ranthis at (983) 678-2545"
The only down side to this ad is that part about "G'Kar". G'Kar is an isolated city at the end of a peninsula. Recently, rebels against the government have been sabotaging some businesses, practicing random acts of violence, and other methods to cause a panic. The characters are to be security guards for a convoy of vehicles from Axis Enterprises - a large corporation who distributes everything from toilet paper to computer equipment. They are planning a large convoy to quiet down the market of G'Kar, and stabilise the region, protecting their investment. A mole in the rebel's organisation had leaked that the rebels knew about this planned convoy, and would like to destroy it. Hence, your job is to dissuade any attacks. If you should fail in your dissuasion, protect the cargo. There are 12 hovercraft. Two of them have light armour (Threshold of 4). One of these has a .50 calibre machine gun in a turret that gives the gunner 50% cover. The rest have a threshold of only 2. The pilots will ask the characters where they want to be, what formation to float in, etc. . . No problems are expected until the last day of the trip.
The Real Deal - The whole story is a cover. Axis Enterprises was hired to smuggle John Edsel, the former Parks Commissioner, into the city. He has information about "major corruption" in the mayor's office. In actuality, the mayor is causing all of the strife. When "the rebels" attack (the day before the last day), John Edsel, hiding in one of the vehicles, will be killed.
Mr. Ranthis will fume at this failure, he will threaten the characters with three black marks each. There is only one way to redeem their failure - find the information. The only other person who knows the information is Kai Stevenson. Kai was framed for drug possession, and is doing isolation time in Mosholu Prison. The prison is designed to keep people in, not keep people out, isn't it? Kai is not allowed to have visitors, and he won't help unless the characters break him out of prison.
Kai knows that the mayor is doing a major cover-up of something in the vicinity of Eagle Island, a park. While going on "weekend fishing trips", the mayor and some thugs are using a hidden air lock in their boat and scuba gear to sink and retrieve nuclear warheads. The detonators are not waterproof, and are kept elsewhere. There is one warhead sunk in 65 feet of murky water right now. . .
- Use if the party needs a bit of a kick to have a good chance at the next module. Characters are hired out to protect Turbo Nuke, a well known thrash rock band, during their arrival at the local spaceport. The pay is 4,000 credits per character. Good pay for just a one day gig.
The Real Deal - As it is common practice to fingerprint all security guards, and there are a lot of police and crowds who see the characters, this is a good place to tie up a few loose ends that players rolled up from the "I was just growing up" or "fickle finger of fate" tables. Is someone out to kill them? A price on their head perhaps? If they owe tax money, they WILL be caught.
Ipsilon Inc, a plastics manufacturer, has a new polymer that will revolutionise the way that armour is manufactured, making it lighter and cheaper. Bear Armour Systems realises the profit that can be made if they quickly capitalise on this improvement. As such, they hire the party to get all specifications of this polymer, including the formula, manufacturing methods, and specifications by any means necessary. They can thus start preparing before the polymer is released, and beat all other armour manufacturers to market. If they get enough information, they may even be able to make the polymer and compete with Ipsilon. As the Ipsilon computers are only hooked up to an internal network, there is only one way to get the complete blueprints. The party will need to perform a night run - break into the Ipsilon compound, find the engineering lab, hack into their computers, download the information, and leave alive.
The Real Deal - The polymer does not have all of the bugs worked out. It is light (-10% to encumbrance), acid resistant (SMR of 100, and 1/2 damage), non-magnetic, and non-conductive (immune to electrical attacks). Unfortunately, it melts at high temperature (fire SMR of 10), cracks at cold temperature, (cold SMR of 15), it can not be made into heavy armour (even threshold of 8 can be affected by a bullet), it is prone to cracking and chipping (all attacks do +1AI damage), and the AI can not be fixed.
There you have it. Corporate espionage at its finest. Ipsilon has, of course, a few guards wearing armour made with the new polymer. . .
Plarex and Gund are two factions that are battling against each other in a brutal civil war. The Plarex Department of Foreign Investments is starting a investment campaign. They are hiring brave adventurers to infiltrate specific cities far into Gund territory. The party is assigned the city of Yir. PDFI hopes to bankrupt the Gund economy by any means necessary. The party is given permission by Plarex to sabotage anything in the city limits. They will be paid a percentage (10% is suggested) of their total damages, with a maximum per character. The characters will be paid a small fee for the assassination of any Gund citizen (50 cr is suggested), but quadruple (200 cr) if the person is in the military. All damages and deaths must be confirmed in the Yir Report, the local paper. PDFI will also fence any goods that are recovered from the unlawful possession of any Gund citizen. Any item that the characters can get their hands on falls into this category. PDFI will pay a minimum of 25% of the retail value for the item. They will buy anything from jewellery to cans of meka fish to spare hovercraft parts.
The Real Deal - Yir is a typical city. It is centred on a lake in a hilly area. Two rivers flow into the lake from the hills, and one river flows out. There is little physical damage from the war. Only two long range missiles have hit the city, destroying less than one city block each. It is powered by a nuclear power plant that is outside of the city (and is in someone else's territory).
Gund is a cruel military dictatorship, with an efficient police force. They have high tech equipment, and place a high priority on saboteurs and murderers. Once they are aware that activities are being carried out, they will also attempt to cover up some of the smaller crimes. If pressed, PDFI can be bargained to pay up to 60% for stolen goods (treat as selling armour). This will only occur if characters ask.
The Plarex Department of Foreign Investments will, of course, disavow any knowledge of the party's existence should they get caught.
Good for a one player module - The character(s) are hired by a Ricco Carluci, an Orion who reputedly heads the Gambini mob. He wants the character to "be the trigger man" on a rival mob leader, Divo Untrax, head of the Ultra mob. Ricco will say that he needs a man outside of his organisation because he doesn't want it coming back to him. He will give the character a good laser, and tell them that tomorrow, Divo will be walking from The Sandanista (a local restaurant) to a The Holster, a bar that Ricco owns, two blocks away. The hit needs to take place while Divo is on the same block as The Holster. The character gets half payment 15 minutes before the hit, half after. All the character has to do is pull the trigger, and go to pick up the rest of the cash. The exchange will be on a street corner on the other side of town.
The Real Deal - The reason that Ricco needs an outside man is that he tipped off the cops. Another assassin, loyal to Ricco, will shoot Divo as he is crossing the street to The Holster. Police will be looking for an assassin with a laser, and a fist full of cash. . .
The characters can still come out ahead of this deal. If approached properly, the Ultras will offer the character a contract on one Orion, named Ricco Carluci.
For high-level characters only - The city of Belize has captured Dr Marcus Yakutz, one of the leaders of the Anarchists. He is known to have created a germ so deadly that it killed half of the area's population before being wiped out. The entire city is now being blackmailed. They must release Dr Yakutz, or the city will be destroyed, piece by piece, all by one man. So far, three police stations have been destroyed by a person in Mars armour. The police do not have the resources to battle the lone destroyer, so the mayor has hired the characters to stop the destruction.
The Real Deal - The lone destroyer is Igor Yakutz, Marcus' brother. He strikes quick, hard, and randomly, inflicting vast amounts of damage before disappearing. He is a semi-retired adventurer, who hit it rich on a few runs. He believes that his brother has nothing to do with the Anarchists, and is being framed just to get to Igor. This is partially true. Marcus is a loyal citizen, but was working for the Anarchists. His connection is so twisted through intermediaries, falsifications, holding companies, and so forth, that the doctor has not realised his own connection. He believed he was working for the military on a germ against the Arachnids.
To show the connection between Marcus and the Anarchists, the prosecutor on the case had to fabricate some evidence for the jury.
To complete the mission, the characters can: 1) Kill Igor, 2) Convince Igor that Marcus is guilty, or 3) convince a judge that Marcus is innocent, and should be released.
There is a public crisis in whatever city the characters are in (or near). A two dimensional disk has appeared in a street. It slowly moves about and rotates. Black smoke spews forth from one side. Objects that enter the disk from the smokeless side pass right through it. Objects that strike from the side with the smoke disappear. Characters are put in charge of getting rid of this polluting menace.
The Real Deal - Ishish is a planet in another dimension. Scientists on the planet of Ishish have a serious problem. A hundred years ago, their planet's industries polluted the soil so bad that it was toxic to plants, animals, and natives. The scientists developed flying cities, and plants that grow without soil. The industries continued to progress. Now their air is so polluted that there are increasing health problems. Some scientists have invented a worm hole generator. They are searching the galaxies for a new planet to inhabit.
The natives, Ishishers, are very different from other life forms that characters have encountered. They look like a mass of tentacles. They have a small central mass from which 6 large tentacles protrude - one up, down, front, back, left, and right. Two thirds of the way up those tentacles, it separates into 5 tentacles, one continues, one more at each right angle. Ishishers move by rolling. They have no concepts of left, right, front, or back.
Places on Ishish are given by a 3 number coordinate code. The numbers are different than characters expect: All numbers start with a line upwards. For the number zero, the line continues upwards. "One" curves to the right. "Two" curves down. "Three" curves to the left. For the number four, the line makes a full circle, then up. "Five" is circle, then left. "Six" is circle, then down. "Seven" (their highest one digit number) is circle, then left.
When characters enter Ishish through the portal, they will be somewhat separated - the portal is moving on the Ishish side due to differing orbits, rotational speeds, etc. The scientists are trying to stop this before exploring/conquering the planet that the characters came from. The machine will have to be destroyed in order to stop the wormhole. If the machine is destroyed too quickly, characters will not be able to get back. A timed bomb is the best bet.
The characters are hired to perform a task on another planet - If you do not have a task in mind, choose from the above ideas. On the way, their flight through warp is detoured around a military exercise. The flight comes out of warp at a re-fuelling station, only to find that it has been hijacked. The captain of the ship tells the characters that due to the detour, they lack the fuel to jump to the next re-fuelling point - they need fuel here in order to leave. As the docks are shut down, characters must enter the spaceport with spacesuits through the airlocks. All systems are being controlled by the pirates, from the electromagnetic cranes in the loading docks to the security video cameras. The station's flux shield is partially working, anti-missile missiles are fully operational, and soon the pirates will have the electron beam cannons and rockets operational. Soon thereafter, the character's ship will be destroyed. It is up to the characters to infiltrate the station, take command of the central command room, and get the fuel flowing again. After they get the fuel flowing, the owner of the spacecraft will compensate the characters for their help. If the characters manage to take complete control of the station, the owners of the station will compensate the adventurers for the safe return of their station. If the characters are bold enough to try to KEEP the station, they will find the fully armed galactic police looking to arrest them for piracy, grand theft, terrorism, and loads of other charges. The police are fully armed with working weapons, and have plenty of gunnery skill.