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From the Future

Privateer, Episode 2: Wanted, Alive

Published March 18, 2022
Episodes Campaigns Privateer

Privateer, Episode 2: Wanted, Alive

Hector, Troy System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.002

Now you don’t want to go flashing this around and you didn’t get it from us.”

Kell nodded as the mining guild rep slid a wrapped up disruptor pistol across the table.

Any work on this system for a privateer?”

1-4 Yes, 5-6 No - 1d6: [6]

There’s plenty of work, sure, but the only folks getting a job on this rock are guild members.”

Kell nodded and thanked the rep for his time then headed up to the bar.

Got any Ol’Janx Spirit?”

The bartender came back with a small whiskey glass.

What’s the news around here?” asked Kell.

How are things around Hector?” 1d6: [2] Bad”

  • Why? Starforged action+theme oracle: Leave Fame”
    • What fame? Starforged action+theme oracle: Reveal Corruption”

Miners are still searching for their next president after Vyra Cobb left.”

Cobb? Should I know that name?”

Hell kid, she’s the Hero of Hector.” All this was under the control of Xemaais Unified until she led the Miner’s uprising.”

Xemaais, the starship weapons manufacturer. What’s so wrong about them?”

Xemaais was reckless with the lives of their employees. Worked them to death. Ms. Cobb organized the Miners, led them on a strike. Xemaais sent in some mercs to reestablish order and it went sideways. Cobb rallied the Miners and got them to fight back. Miners took control of the station and it has been independently operated since.”

Fascinating story, not going to help me find work though.”

Perhaps. Lots of folks coming and going right now with all the leadership meetings. Some might be looking for escort given the pirate activity.”

Kell finished his drink and headed down to the hanger bay’s mission computer. While finding work by word-of-mouth was the best way to build up Kell’s contacts the mission computer almost always has work.

A boxy computer interface with a screen, buttons, and hand print reader.

Here’s where we can break out of the video game box. Privateer had a fairly limited set of open-world missions: attack, bounty hunting, defend base, patrol, and scout. All of them involved hopping back into your ship, flying to some point in space, and doing some space combat (though the scout missions typically involved just scanning something.)

Many space-themed RPGs and supplements have their own job generators. There’s pros & cons to each of them and I won’t provide an extensive review in the middle of gameplay. Classic Traveller’s had Patrons which didn’t give the referee a whole to work with but others have built up a bit more around the concept. Zozer’s SOLO comes with a perfectly adequate patron mission generator. I also like the job generator in Wizards of the Coast’s 2008 Star Wars Saga Edition supplement: Scum and Villainy. There’s also some useful tables in Modiphius’ Five Parsecs from Home 3rd Edition that can be repurposed. With that in mind, I’ve come up with my hodgepodge job generator I’ll use built around a few of these tables. I’ll roll a d6+2 to determine how many jobs are available and then generate that many options for Kell to look through.

How many jobs? 1d6+2: [2]+2 = 4

Kell placed his hand on the mission computer and 4 entries appeared:

  • Patron: Local Government
  • Job/Mission: Deliver (Easy)
  • Target/Deliverable: Large Item - Tool Equipment
  • Destination: 1-2 Achilles, 3-4 Hector, 5 Pyreness, 6 Pender’s Star 1d6: [5] Pyreness
  • Location: Urban - Spaceport
  • Pay 2c

  • Patron: Local Government
  • Job/Mission: Find (Moderate)
  • Target/Deliverable: Person - Police Officer
  • Destination: 1-2 Achilles, 3-4 Hector, 5 Pyreness, 6 Pender’s Star 1d6: [5] Pyreness
  • Location: Urban - Entertainment
  • Pay 4c

  • Patron: Private Organization
  • Job/Mission: Deliver (Easy)
  • Target/Deliverable: Information - Password Code(s)
  • Destination: 1-2 Achilles, 3-4 Hector, 5 Pyreness, 6 Pender’s Star 1d6: [2] Achilles
  • Location: Urban - Spaceport
  • Pay 2c

  • Patron: Local Government
  • Job/Mission: Rescue (Hard)
  • Target/Deliverable: Person - Government Scientist
  • Destination: 1-2 Achilles, 3-4 Hector, 5 Pyreness, 6 Pender’s Star 1d6: [6] Pender’s Star
  • Location: Orbital - Command
  • Pay 5c

Kell eyed the two jobs in the Pyreness system, both on the agricultural world of New Iberia. The cargo job was straightforward but hunting down a police officer was not really in Kell’s wheel-house. Kell didn’t need to pull out his personal computer to check his finances, he knew 6 cred would make a big difference. He tapped both jobs and pressed his hand to the mission computer once again. The information was transferred to his personal computer. New Iberia had purchased a piece of mining equipment from the Hector mining operation and wanted it delivered. The bounty job was more curious, Victoria (an agricultural world in the Junction system) had posted the bounty in several systems. One Georgia Collins, Police Officer” wanted alive for the wrongful termination of a Victorian citizen. Last seen on New Iberia. Well hopefully they were still there because a wild goose chase could quickly turn unprofitable.

How stable is the Pyrenees system? 1d6: [5] good”

The Plan: Fly to the Pyrenees jump point, then sublight travel to New Iberia to deliver the cargo & look for the police officer while trying to out-run any pirates encounters in the Troy system once again.

Contributing PCs:

  • Kell Barban. A difficult Space throw to out-fly any pirates:
    • (TN 9+): [3,5]+1 = 9 (E0) success!

It is a risky” plan throw:

  • (TN 8+): [2,4]+1 = 7 failed!
    • with a good consequence:
      • Hear a rumour or discover a valuable piece of information

A near miss on the plan throw but a successful skill throw to avoid the pirate encounters.

What failed? 1-2 Cargo, 3-4 Police Officer, 5-6 Both 1d6: [3]

This makes sense - given our bonus good consequence. The cargo run wasn’t particularly interesting and if the pirate encounters were avoided there’s little trouble there. The Police Officer has moved on but Kell picks up their trail.

New Iberia, Pyrenees System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.002

This is New Iberia control, you are cleared for an automatic landing on Bay 02.”

Stations with guided landings were always appreciated because you could at least charge any foulups to them. After clearing starport customs, Kell dropped off the large crate of equipment in the import zone and gathered his 2c payment. Pulling up the other job he flipped through the information to look for the key details.

Officer Collins last seen eating breakfast at The Starlight, a local diner.” Kell noted this and boarded his ship. A night’s rest would do him good.

New Iberia, Pyrenees System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.003

Once again, we can take advantage of the format and step beyond the confines of the video game world. In Privateer planetary/orbital locations are mostly generic. They’ve got the hanger, the various guild offices, a bar, a ship dealer, and the cargo area. A few have some special locations related to the video game’s story. So we’ll step out of the starport and into the major urban area on New Iberia. Since there’s no existing setting material for this I’ll just use this handy chart from Two Hour Wargames’ Future Tales:

A point-to-point map of a generic sci-fi urban environment.

We’re at #2 Starport” and need to traverse to #5” Entertainment” to find our target. Of course we know they aren’t there but Kell will go looking and at least instead pick up the trail. There’s a number of ways we could handle random encounters” (the dungeon equivalent of roaming monsters”) including using the system this map comes from. In Future Tales moving from one area” to another involves rolling 1d6 and on a 1 you have a confrontation of some sort.

Three area movement checks: 3d6: [5, 6, 1]

Interesting! The last check triggers a confrontation - in the same area where the target is. Maybe Kell does find them after all…

Kell stepped off the busy morning rush hover tram and discretely looked at his disruptor pistol.

Huh, no stun setting. Should’ve thought of asking about that.” thought Kell.

Stowing the pistol back into his jacket, Kell walked a block to the diner. The words Starlight” glimmered in huge silver & blue letters on the outside. Stepping inside Kell recognized it was patterned after a Terran North American 1950s diner, a popular aesthetic throw back in many sectors Terrans had expanded into. Blue and white checkered tiles dominated the walls with highly polished curved steel counters and bar seats. The tables were white with single wheeled serving robots taking orders. Kell grabbed at the seat at the counter.

Cup of coffee and some hyrdacakes, thanks.” Kell tapped his personal computer against the serving robot’s hand to transfer the money.

He looked around for anyone human, an employee, maybe someone who looked like a regular because robots were unlikely to provide interesting answers to his questions.

Are there human employees? 1-2 No, 3-6 Yes 1d6: 1 No

Like many eating establishments, this place had gone fully automated. Probably why the cop chose it - no humans to necessarily interact with.

Are there any regulars? 1-3 No, 4-6 Yes 1d6: [6] Yes!

The sound of the sliding door caught Kell’s attention.


  • Adventure Crafter character descriptor+identity: Sophisticated Socialite”

The person presented male, sharply dressed, and took a seat next to Kell. After they ordered Kell pulled out his personal computer and accessed the portrait image of Georgia Collins.

I’m here to meet someone, they look like this - have you seen them?”

Sure, she’s always here on the weekdays.” the man said as he looked around. Don’t see her but I’m sure she’ll be in.”

’Cakes and coffee.” a robot interrupted and slid them in front of Kell.

The exterior door slid open once more and a person presenting female stepped inside. The sharply dressed man tapped Kell and said a bit too loudly Hey’s there’s your friend.”

The woman briefly looked at the pair and quickly turned to head back out. Kell shoved a pancake-like piece of food into his mouth and ran out the front door.

Georgia Collins, stop! I’m authorized to bring you in” he yelled out.

How does Collins get away?

  • Starforged action+theme: Command Innocence”

Collins instinctively knew how to manipulate the situation. They ran up to a nearby police officer That man, there — he’s been following me all morning! Please officer, help!”

The local officer turned and moved to confront Kell. Georgia Collins took off in another direction.

Sir stop!” The officer raised his stun baton and held it in an attack position facing Kell.

Kell stopped his pursuit… maybe it was the army training that made him heed to the officer. Other than carrying a highly illegal disruptor pistol, Kell had done nothing wrong anyways.

That person is my asset, I have a license to acquire them from the Victorian planetary government.”

Kell pulled out his personal computer to show the warrant details.

Does the officer want to bring Kell in for questioning? 1-3 Yes, 4-6 No - 1d6: [3] Yes

We’ll need to check these details out down at the station.”

Kell hung his head. Collins had been right there and his sloppy questioning at the diner had cost him the opportunity to bring them in.

New Iberia Police Station, Pyrenees System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.003

This will satisfy our confrontation encounter - a police questioning.

The Plan: Falsify a disruptor pistol license on his personal computer and convince the police that Collins is wanted by police in another sector - hopefully playing on their sense of justice that bad cops ruin the reputation of all cops. I’m not aware that Kell is a hacker so I’m going to call that a formidable check. Otherwise Kell’s plan is not particularly risky - he’s telling the truth.

Contributing PCs:

  • Kell Barban. A formidable Tech throw to hack his personal computer:
    • (TN 11+): [5,5]+1 = 11 (E0) success!

It is a controlled” plan throw:

  • (TN 6+): [4,3]+1 = 8 success!
    • with a good consequence:
      • The task took half the expected time

Well, well. Doubles & a success on the hacking throw - maybe Kell is more adept with Computers than I thought. The benefit of taking less time initially gave me pause … but then I thought that combined with the getting a lead bonus from earlier I think it makes sense. They buy into Kell’s play and quickly work to pass on information they find. Collins is headed for 1-2 Freyja, 3-4 Troy, 5-6 CM-N1054 1d6: [6] = 6

Ok, Mr. Barban. Your records check out.” the officer slides the disruptor pistol and personal computer back over to Kell. I can also provide you with these; we pulled up facial recognition records from our starport cameras. The subject was observed leaving aboard a ship headed for CM-N1054.”

CM-N1054… there’s nothing out there.”

It was registered as a scouting vessel.”

Three area movement checks: 3d6: [4, 5, 5] No encounters.

Kell grabbed the infochit and his belongings. Leaving the police station he took the public transit back to his ship. He’d refuel, take his chances, and jump out CM-N1054.

GM Notes

Again The Plan” has served me well. In game, IIRC, there’s really not much in the CM-N1054 system but I do remember heading there for a few missions and encountering the Retros.” Retros are a radical offshoot of an in-game religious institution that want to return mankind to a purely agrarian existence with minimal technology. Maybe Collins has a connection to the Retros… or has joined them?

Kell’s hack of his personal computer was a surprise, I fully expected to lose the disruptor pistol right then and there. Maybe his specialty in the army was some kind of field communication operations. On the other Kell’s poor detective skills are less surprising - he’s not trained in anything relevant as far as I know.