**A little bit of a break from the GURPS fantasy-style campaigns. Here is the beginning episode of a one on one campaign/ playtest of some GURPS Star Frontiers conversions I've been working on.
GURPS Star Frontiers
Mirko leaned against the bulkhead. He stared down at the clean white floor of the corridor. He looked up and down the corridor, the bright white lights reflecting off the bright white of the floor, walls and ceiling of the ships interior. His heavily shaded goggles did their best to keep the bright light at bay, though it still seemed bright to him.
He had been standing at this same position for the last 4 hours, only leaving his post once per hour to walk to one end of the hall, then to the other, making sure he was scanned at the ports at either end. He had seen a total of 2 other people in the last 4 hours. Not much was going on during this early morning shift of the transport.
Ship-board guard duty. It was a job. The pay was not good, but it was a job. His current contract was with Nova Consolidated Protection, a subsidiary of Security Forces, LTD, which in turn was a subsidiary of the mega-corp, Galactic.
Unfortunately, his pay was going to be just barely enough to cover some previous expenses. He made a quick check of his cred account through the holographic display inside his HUD goggles. He was not supposed to do any personal business while on duty, but he was almost done with his contract, after all, he didn’t really care.
The ship he was stationed on, The Stellar Horizon, was owned by StarPlay Enterprises and heading toward the Theseus system. The only habitable body in the Theseus System is the moon, Minotaur, orbiting a local gas giant. Mirko wonders what he is going to do with his weapons once he gets planetside, knowing that Maze is governed by a very authoritarian government. Trade was free and personal freedoms were free, but guns were a no no. Even the low-powered pistols were not allowed to be carried on the streets. Being caught with a weapon can end in a death sentence. Definitely not worth troubling with.
His current employment with NCP would allow him to transport his weapons from the ship to their office and keep them there in storage, assuming he was re-employed. If he was not re-employed, or if he sought employment somewhere else, NCP would be able to transport his weapons safely to the next employer. Such was the life of a mercenary in the Frontier. Some planets had very lax weapons laws, and others, like Maze, were strict and severe. Even his vibroblade would be not allowed planetside, though regular blades were allowed, and unless he drew and used the blade, no one would ever know.
Ah, well, he’d see how things went once they touched down. They were heading for Port Aegeus, which suited him just fine. Port White Sail was near Theseus' equator, and hence much more prone to bright sunshine. Aegeus was near the dark pole, so even daylight had the sun low toward the horizon.
He was a little concerned about his contract. Despite what he thought was exemplary performance, his last few contracts had been “regretfully unable to renew.” Talking to the other grunts in the break room had revealed little - their contracts were picked up again almost as an afterthought. Hmmmph. Bureaucrats.
Toward that end he was already making provisions to look for a new employer. The guys had mentioned a couple of merc and soldier bars near the spaceport that he could ask around in. He rechecked his cred account - he anticipated buying a few rounds before getting a solid lead or two.
He settled back into his “resting but ready” stance. It was almost time for break. Then four more hours back on this post, by which time they would have touched down and things would be picking up. He supposed if something were to happen to justify his presence at this lonely door, it would occur during that last stretch. No sense stealing something if you were still going to be stuck aboard ship for a few more days.
Just as his shift was about to end, he noticed an incoming icon in his message node. Just as he thought, the message stated that NCP was “regretfully unable to renew” his current contract. His final pay would be credited to his account within 20 hours of satisfactory completion of his final duty. The message indicated that he would be required to turn in all of his company issued equipment and that any missing or damaged equipment would come out of his final pay. It also indicated that, since his contract was not being renewed, he could apply for copies of
references and have any personal equipment, including firearms, stored in a secure locker at the company’s offices on Minotaur Station, an orbiting space station.
This was all the standard fare, he had heard it all before, from the many numerous mercenary companies and security firms he had worked for. Oh well, he would move on to the next job. There was ALWAYS another job available. Even in a system like this, there would be those that needed the type of skills he had to offer.
Mirko took his break time to go over his gear one last time and lock down his weapons in the locker for storage. He would at least keep his knife on him when he went planetside. He ran into a few of the other mercs he had gotten to know over the last 30 days. They seemed sad to see him go. They were a good lot of men, though Mirko believed that most of them had never really seen any combat. Guard duty on a space-liner didn’t always necessitate combat experience though. He would miss them, but there would always be another crew the next time.
His current duty, the last 30 days, had started in Prenglar, the so-called capital of the Frontier. From there, it was an 8 day trip to the Timeon system and the agricultural world of Lossend. A lot of passengers and goods were loaded off and on the ship here in its 4 day lay-over. Though known for its food production, Lossend was also home to many upscale resorts and vacation destinations for the galaxy’s rich and famous. Another 7 days travel to New Streel, though they barely stopped there for for a day for refueling and some minor maintenance. The final stretch of the journey was a 5 day jaunt to Theseus.
Mirko grunted and hefted his kit onto his shoulder. Oh well, changing contracts so often meant that at least he didn’t get stuck on the same run over and over. He needed to find a place to doss down while he checked out the job possibilities on the station. If he could find something here, he would not even have to pay for the trip down the gravity well and back up.
He left the ship and made it through the checkpoints to get to the main concourse. He passed several bars that opened to the concourse, the laughter of UPF soldiers spilling out. He made his way to one of the side-corridors and to an unmarked door. Going in, he found a quieter venue, populated by quiet men, dangerous men. Here was where he might find another contract.
Sitting in one of the station’s several drinking establishments frequented by spacers, mercenaries and other travellers, Mirko spies Lezko Bellen, the shift leader from his tour on the Stellar Horizon. Bellen was a good man, he had met him briefly once before, several years ago during a short stint with another company. He was a Human, about the same age as Mirko, grizzled and the veteran of many engagements during the Corporate Wars. Bellen waves him over and buys him a drink. “Hey ugly! Sorry to hear you weren’t re-upped. I hope ya know that it wasn’t cause of my report. You got all good reviews from me. You’re a good soldier, but you know, corporate always has a way of making the wrong decisions.” Bellen orders him a drink. “I may have a job for ya, though. You ever hear of Eusser Rogonz? He’s some sort of celebrity athlete. A Disc Blitz player or something. He was a passenger onboard the ship, coming from one of the resorts on Lossend. Had a personal security deal with the company, but from what I hear, he was unhappy with it. His travel plans were supposed to be secret, but apparently there was a throng of reporters and fans waiting at the airlock when he departed the ship. The guy threw some fit and pushed his way through the crowd, then once he got to the customs station, he fired NCP. He has been holed up there since. He has refused to deal with the company since he blames them for leaking his plans. You could probably get over there and set up some sort of deal with him. I know a guy in the customs office, a Vrusk by the name of Husni Rani. I can tell him you are coming and he can get you in to see this guy if you’re interested.”
Mirko nodded. “Sounds good. Any idea how long the contract is for? Seem to be having trouble getting mine renewed lately.”
“Well, hard to say. Wouldn’t be through the company, so that would be between you and him I guess,” Bellen replied.
“All right,” says Mirko. “I’ll check it out. Hope he’s not some fancy-pants, expects me to wipe his ass for him. But if his money’s good, we can probably work something out.”
Bellen nods. “OKay, then, I’ll talk to Rani then. Find him at the customs office.”
Mirko throws down enough credits to pay for Bellen’s drink. “And thanks. If you ever need an extra hand, I’d be up for it.” He grabbed his kit again and headed out.
An athlete, huh? Well, it would be a small detail, then, and probably just standing at a door glaring at people not on the list. Easy enough. His feet took him to the customs offices, looking for a Vrusk named Rani.
When Mirko arrived at the customs offices, he was in for a bit of a shock. There was a throng of people mobbing around the front entrance of the building, many with recording devices of some type held high over their heads. There was a lot of shouting and people shoving each other. A lone Dralasite security officer stood in front of the door trying to keep the mob back. Frequent shouts of “Rogonz! Rogonz!” filled the air. The Dralasite stretches his rubbery arms and bellows in his booming, Dralasite voice, “Anyone without official business in the customs office must maintain a 10 yard perimeter of the front of the office. Now step back before I call Star Law, or decide to use this!” With a shorter, 3rd arm, he reaches down and pats the webbing around his waist where hangs a long, bronze stun wand.
That said, he lunges forward toward the gathered crowd with his long arms outstretched. As one, the group moves back, dispersing some, though most of them just take up other positions in the wide corridor in front of the office.
Mirko ignores the screaming mob and pushed his way up to the Dralasite. “I’m here to see Husni Rani. He should be expecting me.”
The security guard looks Mirko up and down., The grizzled soldier does not look or act like an adoring fanboy, not by a long stretch. (Dralasite humor ;) “Uh, okay, you can pass. Down to the end of the corridor, left, then first door on your right. I’ll let them know you’re coming through, so don’t be wandering around. As you can see, we kinda got a situation here.”
Mirko moves through the door, ignoring the plaintive cries of the rejects behind him. He follows the directions and soon finds himself in front of a door with “Husni Rani - Special Projects” on a small nameplate. He knocks firmly three times, and waits.
A Vrusk with a bluish-green carapace opens the door and invites him in. He speaks PanGal in a very brisk pace. “You must be Mirko. My associate, Bellen, speaks highly of you.” The Vrusk looks him up and down and then does what must be the Vrusk equivalent of a shrug. “Well, regardless, I believe you may be able to help me. This Eusser Rogonz is causing quite a ruckus here in our office. And his mob of followers out there are making things even worse. The nodes are all busy. No information is moving in or out of this office at all. I need him gone but he is refusing to leave. Now, normally, I would just let Bledg and the security team escort him to the perimeter, but that would be unwise. This Rogonz has lawyers and has contracts with StarPlay. Well, I won’t bore you with all that. He wants a private security detail to get him out of here. Can you do that? Great, then, let me take you to him.”
Husni Rani leads Mirko to another room a few hallways away, it looks like a conference room of some sort. There is a large table with many chairs. At the far end of the room stands a young Human pacing nervously back and forth and constantly tapping at his wrist comm. He turns as he hears the door open, a look of anticipation and surprise on his face that quickly fades to disappointment.
“I told you to get me a security detail, not Bobo the giant monkey!” Eusser Rogonz calls out as he throws his hands up into the air. He lets out a big sigh and then plops down loudly into one of the high backed conference chairs.
Rani makes an odd chittering sort of sound, then turns and heads quickly out the door. “You two have an agreement to work out. I will leave you to it. Our offices will be closing within the next hour. Thank you both very much.” And then he disappears around the corner as quick as his 8 legs can carry him.
Mirko watches without reaction as the Vrusk skitters off and the door closes behind him. He sits down and puts his feet up on the table, takes out a very large knife, and carefully slices off the end of a cigar. All through the process, his eyes never leave the client. The young Human, Rogonz, is incredulous at the elaborate ritual. Mirko takes out a wooden match, scratches it against his boot, and then, without actually allowing the flame to touch the end of the cigar, gently rolls the edges of the cigar close to the flame until it is lit. Bluish wisps of smoke rise up as the binder catches fire, but he continues to roll it until the entire rim glows. He blows on the end, clearing it of soot and ash. When he is satisfied, he takes a draw on the cigar. Smoke eddies up from his nostrils.
Finally, the young Human can stand it no longer. He jumps to his feet, “Do you mind? I’m trying to breath here!” He stares expectantly at Mirko.
Ignoring the puink for the moment, the soldier wraps his lips around the cigar, then moves it to the side of his muzzle. “Sit down, kid.” The punk stands there, looking incensed at being called “kid.” Mirko swings his feet off the table, and his boots hit the ground hard at the same time he slams his fists onto the table and roars, “SIT DOWN!”
The kid sits.
Mirko leans back, “Now that’s better.” He draws again on his cigar. “The way I see it, I’m here for an hour or so. You are, too.” The kid looks puzzled at that, but Miro continues. “So that my time here is not a total waste, I am enjoying this fine cigar. Now I see this going one of two ways. Either you and I reach an arrangement of employment for me, by you, or we don’t. If we don’t, I go on and look for another job. And I will still have enjoyed this fine cigar.” He pauses. “You, on the other hand, will be thrown to that pack of rabid reporters and fans out there.”
He pulls out a standard contract for mercenary employment, and before turning it to the young man on the other side of the table, scribbles something on the bottom. “Sign this, kid, and I’m your security detail. If you listen to your security detail, you will arrive at your destination with a minimum of fuss. Ignore your security detail, and the contract is voided. Payment is half now, half upon completion of the assignment. You can fill in the specifics down there at the bottom. Oh, and you’ll notice the rate is 20% higher than is usual. That’s because I’m the only potential security detail in this room that I can see. And,” and he leans forward, glaring into the punk’s eyes, “because I figure it’ll take that extra 20% to help me overlook that “Bobo the giant monkey” crack. Are we clear? Do we have a deal?” He shoves the contract across the table.
Rogonz blinks a few times, furrows his brow once or twice as it looks as if he might speak, purses his lips, scratches his head, then shrugs his shoulders. “Where do I sign?”
Just then, there is a knock on the door and the Vrusk sticks his head back in. “Excuse me, there is a security detail from StarPlay here to collect Mr. Rogonz,” he states matter of factly.
Rogonz jumps up again and paces back and forth a few times, shaking his clenched fists, “I told them I didn’t want their frakking team. I told them! This is such mopak! Those corporate handlers are such a bunch of bolt heads. They always frak things up!” He turns and looks at Mirko, then leans over and signs the contract. “Ok, boss. You’re hired. Let’s go. We need to get to the surface, I have a car on standby at the terminal and a suite at the Kullou Arms.”
As the client finishes signing, Mirko slowly gets to his feet. “You! Rani! I need you to go out front and make way through the crowd for the StarPlay security team. Make sure the folks in front know that they’ll be coming out the front door, and give them enough time to get excited about it. Can you do that for me?” The Vrusk, seemingly put off by Mirko’s abrupt orders, starts to object, but then throws up his arms in exasperation and heads back out front.
He turns to the kid, “So, are those just reporters and fans, or is there anyone special looking for you? Jealous boyfriend, Disc Blitz rival, anyone you have really pissed off?” He jerks a many-jointed thumb in the direction of the door. “Besides that guy, of course.”
The kid blinks, “Huh? Wha? No, no one is trying to kill me or anything, if that’s what you’re saying. I just want to get out of here and get where I’m going without StarPlay pushing me around!”
The Yazirian nods, “Fair enough.” He tries to remember what he’d seen as he approached the customs office. There was only one front entrance and likely only one rear entrance, though both doors should be fairly secure.
Mirko thinks he may be able to get one of the office workers to let him out the back door, but if that doesn’t work, he remembers seeing that the office space next door was vacant. How could you miss the 3000 bright, flashing “PanGal Leasing” signs plastered to the front of the space. From his experience, all the occupancy zones on space stations were built modularly so they could easily be expanded or reduced if need be. That generally meant easy to move walls or at the very least, multiple access doors. Then again, he could just march this kid right out through the front door and see what happened.
Mirko moves to the door and motions to the kid, “Mister Rogonz, if you’ll follow me? Stick close.” He exits the room and moves away from the entrance. He strides to the wall of the embassy closest to the vacant office space and tries to call up some schematics on his HUD of the station’s layout.
The station schematic is as he thought. There appears to be some sort of door or access panel located in the rear-most space in the office. He quickly moves that way with Rogonz in tow. “Where are we going? The door is that way!” he begins to protest, but an intimidating stare from the tall Yazarian is more than enough to shut him up. Several office workers make surprised statements as Mirko and his charge move further into the office and Mirko can hear the Vrusk, Rani, calling after him, going on about this being “highly irregular” and “not allowed back there!”
Mirko shrugs it all off and finds the door he is looking for. A placard on the door reads “Supplies.” He quickly opens the door and sees a small room, about 5 by 10, lined with numerous shelves stacked with boxes of office supplies, cleaning supplies and other various sundries. The walls cannot be seen due to the multiple shelving units.
Without hesitation, he strides to the back of the room to the wall facing the next suite. “If you would follow me and close the door once you’re in, Misgter Rogonz?” he says. Then he grabs the right side of the shelving unit and tries to pull it away from the wall. He grunts with the effort, but the heavy shelving does not budge. He turns again to the client, eyeing the room. “Now if you’d be so good as to stand right over there... Yes, that’s it.” Assuring the client was out of the way for the moment, he gives a mighty heave and with a loud crash, the shelves topple over into the room! He commences to examine the wall.
There is banginging on the door behind them as the customs office workers yell and demand to be let in, but Mirko pays them no mind as he sees what he is looking for immediately, a large access panel, nearly as tall as he is. He quickly starts examining the portal, feeling around its edges with his nimble fingers. After a moment he finds the release mechanism and unlatches the panel. The door swings open and bumps the end of the toppled supply shelf. Mirko looks into the dusty blackness beyond, and not seeing any threats, motions for Rogonz to squeeze through. He quickly follows.
The two find themselves in a large, open space, another office suite not impeded by interior walls. Some light can be see from the front of the space, peeking in through covered up windows. Mirko hopes to find access to an upper or lower level of the station, but is not so lucky but he does spy the rear exit off to his left, only about 3 yards away. Behind him, he can hear the Vrusk and other office workers shouting in the storage closet, and the access panel banging against the toppled shelf.
“Okay, Mister Rogonz, if you’ll step this way. The StarPlay detail should be leaving about now, so hopefully we won’t have anyone waiting for us back here,” says Mirko. He crosses to the back door and cracks it to see if the coast is clear.
The back door of the empty office seems to be stuck as Mirko tries to open it. He yanks on the handle and suddenly the door flies open, knocking down several pieces of scaffolding that had been leaned up against the door and partially blocking it from opening. The metal and plastic frames crash down loudly, knocking over a row of conduit that had been stacked up next to that.
The clanging and banging continues for some time, echoing throughout the empty office space and the service corridor beyond.
“Nice one,” Rogonz says to Mirko with a smirk.
Cringing, Mirko sticks his head out into the service corridor and sees that it is completely empty. At the far end, about 30 yards away, he sees a service lift that could take them to another level of the station quickly.
Mirko chomps down on his cigar and growls, “Yea, yea, well I never said that we wouldn’t be rattling around a bit. Let’s go, the coast is currently clear.” He heads to the lift, looking over his shoulder to make sure the client is following.
The two make it to the lift without any problems, and after a moment, the two are traveling to another level. The previously tense Rogonz relaxes a bit and lets out a deep breath. “Thanks for getting me out of there. I’m just so sick of the way corporate security can never keep my travel plans quiet when I ask them to. Don’t get me wrong, I love my fans, but sometimes I just want some peace and quiet and privacy, ya know?”
They take the lift 3 levels out to the level where the docking bay is for shuttle down to the surface. They exit the lift and make their way across the wide corridor. Rogonz keeps his head down and the high collar of his jacket up, shielding much of his face.
Within moments, the shuttle port is visible and the two make their way toward it. Suddenly, off to the right, about 15 yards away, a man breaks free from the crowd and begins rushing toward the two. He has an ugly look on his face and he growls “Rogonz!” as he breaks into a run, heading straight toward them through the crowd.
Mirko turns to the client, “Friend of yours?”
Rogonz shakes his head, his eyes open wide, then motions further past the man down the corridor to the shuttle station, “No, and that’s our shuttle. If we miss that one, the next one isn’t for 3 more hours.” He then slinks back behind Mirko. “We need to be on this shuttle!”
Mirko moved along the side of the corridor, trying to put some warm bodies between the client and the scary Terran. Unfortunately, the other people on the way to the shuttle were thinking something different, and scattered out of his path. The Yaziri stepped into his path and tried a rabbit punch to the midsection, trying to knock the breath out out of him, but the Terran was faster than he looked, and was also a bit more determined than Mirko had given him credit for. He ducked under Mirko’s punch and launched an attack against the client. Gotta give the kid credit - he had some good moves. He got his arms up and danced out of the way of the crazy. Apparently, this was about a gambling mistake he had made and somehow blamed on the client.
There is another announcement about the imminent departure of the shuttle. Time to cut this short. Since the crazy was ignoring Mirko, he takes his time and lines up a nasty kick to the knee. He goes down like a tree, screaming. Mirko grins and motions to the client, “Mister Rogonz, shall we? We wouldn’t want to have to wait for the next shuttle.”
The kid smiles and they speed to the shuttle, entering just as the doors are closing. They grab a seat and relax for the three hour descent.
The young athlete looks over to the hardened veteran and smiles a bit, “Hey, call me Ess. That’s what my friends call me.” He leans his head back, closes his eyes and is quiet for the rest of the trip.
The Trip down to the surface is not that bad; a little slow for Mirko’s taste, but given the strange climate and odd rotation of the moon, not too bad at all. They touch down at Port White Sail and are enter the terminal with little interference. Ess reminds Mirko that he has a car waiting at the terminal, which he double checked on his comm just before arrival.
Quickly the two find the the waiting vehicle. Mirko looks it over and sighs. An air car. Of course it was an air car. The city of Maze, if you could even call it a city, seeing as it covered nearly the entire equatorial region of the moon, stretched upwards well over a mile and is even said to extend downward, below the surface nearly as far.
Trying to hide his frustration at the choice of vehicle, Mirko grunts and motions the client to get in. “What was the name of your hotel again, Ess? Let’s see if we can get you there and then you can relax.” The kid names a resort, famous enough that even Mirko has heard of it. Definitely five-star. He quickly punches in the name of the resort and hits the ‘go’ button. The turbines come up to speed, and soon the aircar takes off and heads in what Mirko assumes is the direction of the resort.
The drive to the hotel, the prestigious Kullou Arms, is only about an hour from the shuttle terminal. Mirko works the controls of the aircar clumsily, but fortunately for him, all of Maze’s traffic is controlled by a traffic grid. All vehicles are required to check into controlled traffic patterns and are all automatically navigated to their destinations. It is safe and convenient, and in this case, moving.
The two arrived at the hotel and entered the secure parking structure with no incident. Ess had already checked in remotely and all they had to do was get into a lift and be taken up to the correct floor. It was a suite on a private floor, only visitors with an access code could enter that floor and there were security measures everywhere.
The suite was not huge, but lavish. “I took the liberty of securing you lodgings in the adjacent room,” the athlete said to Mirko. “I’ll call you when I need you.” With that, Ess entered his suite and shut the door. Mirko’s room was a much simpler accommodation located off the same hall, doors right next to each other. An interesting design, Mirko thought, to but a luxury suite directly adjacent to a regular room to house assistants, security or the like. The Yazarian quickly settled into his room and waited.
This will be an occasional break from my Varisian GURPS campaigns. I have been putting together some conversions, drawing heavily from GURPS Ultra Tech, of course. As a game system, Star Frontiers is FUN but much of it doesn't make sense, and even often contradicts itself.
That said, my conversions are not meant to be direct conversions, but merely used to get the right 'feel', which is the way conversions should be, in my opinion.
Another note, the link at the top goes to the google document that we did the play by post on. It has many comments and even some pictures that I may or may not worry about getting put up on here.
Also, bold text is MY work, non-bold text is the work of +Arne Jamtgaard .