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S3 Without a Scout Service


(Opening note - I'm providing this as inspiration, and thus avoiding rules-crunching or elements. If you like it, port in what you need for YOUR setting. Play with dates, organizations or whatever and make it work for your players and concepts - if I were running a game tomorrow, I'd do the same.)

As discussed in some of my other posts, I often explore concepts for Traveller which *don't* include the 3I setting, and all of the attached conceits. One of these is the ubiquitous "IISS" Scout service covering exploration, survey and mail courier duties. BUT, I also like having my cake and eating it too when it comes to inspirational material.

Which brings us to the "S3" element of the Scout security forces, mentioned in Book 6 and other sources of the original material...

For those not familiar with it, S3, or the "Special Security Service" was an element of the Scout organization tasked primarily with recovering Scout personnel or material which may have fallen into hostile hands, as well as other "implied" commando-type missions. They are described as being competent and respected by the other services, and specializing more in low-profile operations with less combined arms support.

Hmm... right up my alley, in terms of personal experience and things I have fun with. Plus, think of the game possibilities. But, how do we port it into a campaign with no *organized* scout service?

Well - if you postulate Scouts as independent contractors, or corporate-funded exploration, then why not have PMCs (private military contractors) as an element involved in things as well?

After all, in such a universe ("Hostile/Zaibatsu" I'm looking at you in particular), there will certainly be a call for "competent people who can get things done quietly" at a level which falls between mere troubleshooting, and full-on military force. (Heck, this describes MANY Traveller scenarios through the years, canon or not). Where there is a need, industry will meet it.

Enter Seraph Surety Services, or "S3" as they're more commonly known...

Seraph Surety Services was formed 15 years ago by Mikhael Angelos following his successful career in the military; most of which was centered on "commando"-type functions for a particular organization which thrived on a low profile but had an extremely good reputation. During the first few years S3 filled a similar niche as other companies, providing training to various security forces or third-string militaries, and conducting protective detail work for those who could afford it. Ten years ago that changed with one mission: a survey mission to a relatively unexplored region was captured by a group of unsanctioned colonists determined to hold the ship and crew for ransom and public recognition. Seraph Surety had a crew finishing a site survey one system away - they jumped in, rescued the crew and ship while only killing the five ringleaders of the colony group, and made it back to a populated system all while the "official" naval forces were still debating what to do.

Since then S3 has specialized in the surgical operation. Crew captured by pirates, and don't want to pay the ransom? S3 will take care of it. Exploration survey ran into local trouble? Seraph Surety Services can get the ship back, recover your crew, and keep it all off the 'net browsers. Your executive team got kidnapped during negotiations, and the board meets next week? S3 can get them back and maybe even provide an offer the opposition can't refuse... Worried about hijackers on the innaugeral cruise of your high-liner? Let S3 put a couple of people in amongst the guests, and they'll interdict everything without spilling a drink or causing a fuss. All of these things have demonstrated the ability of Seraph Surety to conduct matters in the grey areas between "normal" events and military operations, and to do it with minimal fuss or external support.

Angelos has been *very* careful about a few elements as the company has grown. S3 does not take part in mercenary/corporate wars - enough other businesses fill that niche, and it's too high profile. Similarly, they don't operate as an arm of the government or military forces. Nor will S3 engage in smuggling/protection rackets/criminal enforcement. Seraph Surety specializes in the low-profile, "what just happened?" side of personnel recovery and protection, with minimal fuss or overhead. Governments love this, as it doesn't make anyone look bad or incompetent. Corporations like the lack of public exposure, and high return on investment. And S3 has grown from a few people working a retirement job, into a spot for certain people to use their skills for a few years and make enough to live comfortably anywhere in the 'verse...

Personnel - In the first years of the company, Mikhael Angelos recruited exclusively from members of his former military commando unit. Since then the hiring pool has grown somewhat, but it is still a very rarefied and specialized field. Three tours Marine Infantry? Sorry, no openings right now, but Ebonlake Services is hiring and we'd be glad to refer you. One tour Army two terms Scout? Well, we're kind of full on pilots right now, but we'll keep your resume on file. Navy Lieutenant and Agent, with a high Recon and Streetwise skill? Let's talk and see what you're made of. (Tweak for your own setting, but S3 employees should be the definition of "grey man/low profile but highly effective when need be." Think Jason Bourne in space rather than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Scalpel versus hammer).

Equipment - Seraph Surety personnel are very well funded in terms of gear,but travel lighter than most people expect. Auto pistols, SMG, or ACR weapons are the rule, not the exception. Maybe there are a couple of grenades, for dicey situations. Light, concealable armor types. Assets like Battle Suits, PGMP, or mortars aren't even in the inventory. If you can't carry it and still move 30km through hostile territory in 10 hours, or have a drink at a bar without looking like you're invading the planet, it's probably too much.

Ships - For a company with a relatively small footprint, S3 has *not* skimped on space travel. The primary vessel for operations remains the surplus 100-dton exploratory vessel, prized for a low profile combined with reliability and versatility. Seraph also owns three 200dton "Free Traders", which have sacrificed half their cargo space for maneuver drive upgrades - these are used for operations involving larger scale personnel/equipment recoveries, or the need for a higher speed evasion and escape capability. Thanks to appropriate financial "considerations", these vessels travel with rather non-descript markings and won't appear out of place in any frontier port.

Other elements - S3 personnel tend to rely on out of the box thinking, creative solutions, and brains over brawn. While they are more than capable of directing overwhelming violent action when need be to a contract, it's viewed as even more successful if no shots are fired. Most importantly, the bottom line is tilted towards success rather than profit, and Mikhael Angelos has maintained a company ethos of "underpromise and overdeliver" which remains to this day.