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Adventure Contest #2, Entry 3: Spirit of the Age


I give permission for this adventure seed to be distributed freely,
provided that I am credited as its author and that the words are
unchanged (reformatting, including adding HTML tags, is OK).

The PCs arrive on Musayid (see
http://jtas.sjgames.com/login/article.cgi?426 ), either en route to
somewhere else or as part of a straightforward job. They will need
to stay at least one night; there is no accommodation at the (very
basic) starport, but there are hotels and hostels in the "Imperial
Quarter" just beyond the extrality fence. Before leaving the port,
all weapons have to be secured (either in their ship or in the
starport strongroom), and they are provided with a lengthy guide to
visitors' behavior while on Musayid.

The Imperial Quarter is bustling with activity, but the ubiquitous
presence of government Watchers encourages a more subdued atmosphere
than is common in most startowns. Occasionally, when no police are
in sight, a resident will try to sell them some artwork (including a
beautifully-presented, poignant poem about the death of a child, and
an attractively carved and painted shell).

During the night explosions are heard outside, and Watchers seal off
the building "for the visitors' safety". Everyone is questioned and
rooms searched; if anyone did buy artwork they have some hard
questions to answer (and a hefty fine to pay), but the officers are
too busy to take things further.

While everyone waits for news, another explosion rocks the building.
This one has gone off in the lobby, bringing down the front of the
building and seriously damaging the structure.

The building is no longer sealed, and everyone needs to get to a
filter mask as quickly as possible. Hearing will be impaired for a
few minutes because of the blast, and anyone without combat
experience (or similar) is likely to go into shock. In addition, the
whole second floor (where the PCs are staying) is in danger of
collapse - and the stairs and lifts were both in the now-missing
front part. Quick yet careful action is called for to find a way
down; the PCs will have to decide whether to help the others who are
trapped up here.

Once down, it is obvious that there are several people still
trapped. Most of the Watchers are staying calm, splitting into teams
to calm the panicked, look after the injured, keep watch for
terrorists, and organize everyone else into helping. There are,
however, too few of them, and any help the PCs can offer will be
gratefully received.

There is a split between the reactions of the older and younger
Musayidin. Those who can remember the war are resigned and
pragmatic, while those under 40 (who grew up during Shahriar's rule)
are shocked and confused, with a sense of betrayal that the promise
of "freedom from fear" has been broken.

Reactions of the offworlders are more varied. The GM may wish to use
some of the stereotypes from the "Survival" story section of "Things
To Do In Jump" ( http://jtas.sjgames.com/login/article.cgi?589 ).

Further events:

* After a while the second floor looks like it is finally going to
collapse. Cries from above and below alert the rescuers to the
presence of survivors. A good solution would be to run back to the
port and fetch any grav vehicle from a visiting ship (if there is
one available), then use this to support the floor while rescue
continues. Other creative solutions are possible.

* As time passes all the younger, shocked Musayidin pull themselves
together. Almost everyone is working as a team towards a common
goal. If the PCs have acquitted themselves well they will be seen
as natural leaders of the operation. Later, they will be praised
by the government (though the descriptions of their actions may be
so twisted as to be almost unrecognizable).

* Even though this site is not a top priority (it was not the worst
blast), the Musayidin emergency services are actually fairly quick
to respond - after the action begins this adventure covers a
short, intense period. It doesn't seem quick to the PCs, though!
Available Musayidin equipment is old and low-tech; the starport's
limited resources are already in use elsewhere.

Note: Who has planted the bombs is unimportant for the purposes of
this adventure - the government has many enemies, though few with
the resources to pull off an operation on this scale. If, after the
crisis, the PCs want to investigate further they will face
opposition from all levels of Musayidin society. In fact, the
planetary authorities can handle the aftermath effectively, both in
terms of an investigation and in milking the tragedy to gain support
and financial aid from offworld.