Saturday Seed ~ 90 (Trinity)

This week’s seed is for Trinity, the third A in White Wolf’s retired Adventure!/Aberrant/Trinity game line, if you know what I mean. This is a very short idea, but if slipped into a journey in the right way, can really rock your players back on their heels.

The Seed
While underway through the Asteroid Belt on whatever mission or motivation your game has presented, bound for Absolute Zero and other seedy ports of call, the characters are attacked by a desperate group of pirates, seemingly on their last legs. This will work even if the player characters are pirates themselves.

Planting the Seed
Any time your group is sent or chooses to go into prime pirate attack territory such as the Asteroid Belt this seed can be planted easily under the guise of a “random encounter.” If you game with long-time gamers or those who still think of sessions in terms of D&D tropes, it will be easy to subvert their assumptions into making nothing more of this attack than just fun with dice and imaginary weapons.

The Details
As they head for Absolute Zero, any good group will be on alert for pirates of their own accord. If not, you can prime them for adventure by informing them with grave seriousness that acts of piracy have been on the rise recently and while patrols by various space-faring nations and organizations have increased in response, small craft are advised by news media and port authorities to exercise caution.

When you spring the attack, give the pirates one good gambit – their initial approach. Using a classic piracy maneuver the players should have read in Hidden Agendas, have them begin to close with a relatively good measure of surprise. Once you have the PCs blood pumping, have the resources of the pirates begin to wear thin. They really are on the very edge of their endurance and hope.

The pirates are operating a large and badly maintained transport of an older Chinese make with a bad reputation. Obviously damaged and repaired many times, sporting numerous makeshift weapons modifications, your description of the ship should reflect age, risk to its own occupants, but not go so far as to suggest Whedonian Reavers. Desperation is the right feel to strive for in this scene.

Pushed to the very limit, the pirates begin to make errors, and the ship itself suffers systems failures which interfere with handling and navigation. The characters should be able to easily escape, or if of a more martial bent to disable the “StarBreaker” and leave it adrift. Near the end of combat, the engines will fail, and the command deck will go up in a blaze from wiring shorts and negligence. When I ran this seed in my own group, the ship suffered a complete systems failure, and in the last round of combat lost atmosphere. The characters went to check for survivors, but found nothing but corpses, contaminated food stores, and signs of starvation and a jerry-rigged survival against all odds. Searching the ship is not necessary, but if the group overcomes the pirates and chooses to board their vessel, everything they see will suggest that this ship has been held together by the will of its captain, and that he and his officers perished in the command deck fire. The ship is not capable of motion or navigation, and will need to be abandoned here. Make a note if the players do nothing to mark its position or notify authorities about the event and its location. If the group takes prisoners, they won’t have too much to add over smarmy pleas for mercy and leniency, or shows of cliche bravado, but will plant the notion that the one thing they feared in this universe was their captain. They were quite honestly terrified of him and his way of getting inside a man’s head. Other than this tidbit, they are just a bunch of relatively unsuccessful pirates with little to show for their predations, but scars, tattoos and exaggerated stories.

Once travel resumes and the “random encounter” is over, distract them with the routine duties of space travel, and then have them arrive safely. At Absolute Zero, let the rumour mill work its wonders and the characters may learn of others being preyed upon by the StarBreaker and not faring so well. The bounty on the ship and its crew can be discovered, and so on, but let the primary story rise to prominence until a suitable time to drop the other mismatched pirate shoe.

Another crew will arrive the morning after the characters and tell a tale of being chased by the StarBreaker. They eluded them, but described the ship as a wreck in space identical to the one the characters faced. Hours after that, another ship fails to arrive but a weak distress signal is reported by an independent miner who has come to Absolute Zero for supplies. His report cites the name StarBreaker as the attacking vessel.

With the characters’ report, and the subsequent reports of continued action by the StarBreaker confusion and a hint of fear takes root among the workers and officials in the dock. Someone could obviously by lying, but for some reason, the locals leap to a less logical reaction: Ghost Ship.

What’s going on
The simple fact is that everyone agrees that the captain was a very scary man, and he liked to dabble in the occult. For reasons of his own liked to keep his Clairsentience under wraps, but some suspected he was a psion. He unsettled people, and revelled in being feared. He had much cause to revel.

What isn’t known, even to the other members of the crew is that he had two ships – both made to appear as the same vessel, both with the same name, both engaged in acts of piracy, on a complicated time-table designed to ensure no two attacks happen at the same time. For reasons of his own the captain enjoyed the idea of hearing reports of his ship attacking two distant locations and having folks wonder how he managed to travel between them so fast.

Obviously, the ghost ship idea is hokum, but it should start the players on a spiral of speculation and investigation that can take them to all sorts of seedy and disteputable places…. especially when the StarBreaker comes looking for revenge and they learn that the dead captain is at her helm…

Enjoy!

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