The Cleaved Helm

Venture Sparks: Adventuring in the Space Viking Era

"I hope . . . Knightfall accurately reflects my philosophy of 'fun to play' rather than just 'fun to read.'  I have tried hard in that product to 'put my money where my mouth is' and illustrate how I currently think a good, useful adventure should be presented."
— Joe D. Fugate, Sr., "Through the Years," MegaTraveller Journal #4


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Inspired by the regular "Amber Zone" feature of the original Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society, Venture Sparks are ready-to-play adventure scenarios set in the Space Viking era, "complete with patrons, rumors and nasty surprises along the way."

The Lost Corvette | The Expectant Heir | The Aesir Cult | The Darrian Base | Dvalin's Renegades | The Albattar Adventure | Of Monitors and Friends | Jailbreak on Joyeuse
A Zhdantian Trader (external site) | The Deadly Garden (external site)


The Lost Corvette[*]

Location: Tyrfing, Sacnoth Dominate Required Equipment: starship helpful but not necessary

The travellers are approached at a startown tavern by Assiniboia Raj who identifies herself as a researcher affiliated with a major university.  Raj has been engaged privately by the university — if pressed, she will admit there is also a group of private investors backing the venture — to investigate the disappearance of a Fortrop-class corvette lost during the Sacnoth-Gram War.  (The Fortrop-class is nearing its end of service now but was first launched by Sacnoth during the war.)  Raj's research has led her to believe that the Banebrydende can be found in the planetoid belt of Beater.  (A search of publicly available information will confirm that Raj is an "independent researcher" of some renown for her historical and archæological accomplishments with more than a bit of notoriety for her sometimes unorthodox field methods.[])

Image - Corvette starship

Assiniboia Raj[]

If the travellers have a ship, Raj wants to hire them to transport her to the Beater system for an extensive survey of a specific region of the planetoid belt.  She will pay high passage for herself through to Beater.  (The travellers are free to make additional cargo and passenger arrangements to Beater.)  Once at Beater Raj will pay the standard salary for a navigator for each crew member plus 80% of the standard cargo rates for the entire ship's hold for every two weeks spent assisting her in surveying the planetoid belt.  If the expedition is successful in finding wreckage or other indications that the Banebrydende was in the belt, she will pay each crew member a bonus equal to 20% of the annual salary for a navigator.  If the ship itself is located intact, regardless of its working condition, she will pay each crew member a bonus equal to twice the annual salary for a navigator.  In all cases, each crew member must complete a non-disclosure agreement prohibiting them from sharing any details about the expedition in perpetuity.

If the travellers do not have a ship, Raj would like to hire them to serve as a survey crew as above, but will make the travel arrangements to Beater herself, also paying for middle passage for each traveller.  Once at Beater, Raj will make arrangements to lease the Springende Snekat, a 200-ton, tech level B trader, for several weeks.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) On the voyage to Beater Raj admits that she is affiliated with the University of New Kalmar on Gram.  (Though she makes no admission it also becomes apparent — she occasionally refers to the Sacnoth-Gram War as the Mutiny, for example — that her sympathies are with Gram.)  She offers no explanation other than general archæological and historical interest for why the university is interested in the lost warship.

After 2D weeks (with a negative DM equal to the highest level of Pilot or Navigation skill among the travellers) of searching the planetoid belt at Beater, extensive wreckage of the Banebrydende will be found, suggesting that the entire warship was destroyed.  A wider search discovers four bodies caught in the gravitational field of a small planetoid nearly a thousand kilometres away. They are not wearing vaccsuits but are wearing Sacnoth naval uniforms of the era and show signs of death by exposure to vaccum.  Raj makes extensive recordings and will insist upon taking the bodies and several critical components aboard — all of them severely damaged.  After 2D days of recovery operations Raj will declare an end to the expedition.  Further examination of the recovered components while returning to Beater show no indications of battle damage, suggesting instead that the ship was destroyed by a massive drive or magazine explosion (or perhaps after initiation of an auto-destruct sequence).

Upon return to Beater, Raj pays the travellers the balance of their salaries, including the debris-finding bonus, and says she will make her own arrangements to transport the Banebrydende components and the four bodies back to Tyrfing.  She thanks the travellers for their assistance and reminds them of the requirements of their non-disclosure agreements.

2) As 1) above, except that Raj is affiliated with the University of Førstebjerg on Sacnoth.  (Though she makes no admission it also becomes apparent — she occasionally refers to the Sacnoth-Gram War as the Unshackling, for example — that her sympathies are with Sacnoth.)  She offers no explanation other than general archæological and historical interest for why the university is interested in the lost warship.

3) As 1) above except that the Banebrydende is discovered.  The ship is adrift without power and shows signs of extensive damage, including several hull breaches but again apparently not battle damage.

Image - Corvette starship

Corvette Banebrydende[]

Raj will ask for volunteers to join her in boarding the ship.  The ship is damaged throughout the hull, with ruptures or hatch failures in all pressurized sections and indications of explosions in both the drives and the magazines.  There are many bodies, showing both blast and decompression injuries, and no survivors.  Attempts to reinitiate any ship's systems are unsuccessful.  Raj makes extensive recordings and will ask for assistance in recovering several computer components from the ship, some of which have suffered some form of physical damage.

Upon return to Beater, Raj pays the travellers the balance of their salaries, including the ship-finding bonus, and says she will make her own arrangements to transport the Banebrydende components back to Tyrfing.  She thanks the travellers for their assistance and reminds them of the requirements of their non-disclosure agreements.

4) As 2) and 3) above.

5) As 3) above, except that the Banebrydende, while adrift and apparently without drive power, appears to be undamaged.  The four bodies are discovered nearby as in 1) above.  More detailed scanning of the ship indicates that there is minimal internal power, perhaps powering automated computer systems, but insufficient for general life support (though perhaps enough for limited life support in a few small locations).  The ship does not respond to communication hails.

Raj will offer an additional bonus, equal to the annual salary for a navigator, for those who will join her in an attempt to board the Banebrydende.  (If all of the travellers volunteer she will pay the same bonus for up to two travellers to remain behind, maintaining contact with the boarding party.)

Raj says it's likely Banebrydende's anti-boarding systems — designed to prevent unwelcome entry — have been activated, but produces a small device which she claims will allow her to gain entry via the main airlock.  She cautions though that once aboard they may face a variety of automated, anti-boarding measures such as deactivated — or strobed — lighting, locked hatches and iris valves, sudden evacuation of pressurized areas, and cycling of the deck-mounted grav plates, but assures the travellers that she is in possession of the appropriate verbal override codes.  (Any traveller with zero-gee combat or weapons skill will confirm these expectations.)  If pressed, she will provide the code to the travellers on a throw of 7+ (with positive DM equal to the highest level of carousing, interrogation or jack-of-all-trades skill among the travellers): "kapp."  (Sagamaal for "cape.")

Assuming some of the travellers join Raj in transferring over to Banebrydende's hull in vaccsuits, they will discover that the anti-boarding systems have been activated but that Raj's device enables them to enter the airlock.  Once through the inner airlock hatch the travellers will encounter all of the anti-boarding measures.  Much to Raj's surprise — and the travellers' dismay — the verbal override code will prove useless.  Raj will frantically admit that her greatest fear has come to pass: the ship's computer has malfunctioned and used the internal security systems to eliminate the crew and dispose of their bodies.

Lighting changes should only be a nuisance, especially as vaccsuits have integral lighting units.  Lighting shipwide can be restored to normal by using any control console in the ship on a throw of 9+, per combat round, with positive DM equal to the combined level of computer and jack-of-all-trades skills of the traveller making the attempt.

Depressurization should cause no problems for travellers who have not unsealed their vaccsuit (or suffered a rupture in the vaccsuit).  Throw 5+, with DM-2 for anyone who does not have vaccsuit skill, or a positive DM equal to vaccsuit skill, to reseal an opened suit without injury.  The depressurization measures shipwide can be stopped on a throw of 9+, per combat round, with positive DM equal to the combined level of computer and jack-of-all-trades skills of the traveller making the attempt, by using any control console in the ship.

Individual locked hatches or iris valves can be unlocked on throw of 9+, per combat round, with positive DM equal to the combined level of mechanical, electronic and jack-of-all-trades skills of the traveller making the attempt.  The locking measures shipwide can be overcome on a throw of 9+, per combat round, with positive DM equal to the combined level of computer and jack-of-all-trades skills of the traveller making the attempt, by using any control console in the ship.

Travellers must throw 7+, per combat round, to avoid 1D damage from the effects of the cycling grav plates, with positive DM equal to the combined level of brawling, zero-gee combat and jack-of-all-trades skills of the traveller making the attempt.  (Any, travellers who are strapped into a console seat or crew bunk will avoid the effects of the cycling grav plates.)  The grav plate measures shipwide can be stopped on a throw of 9+, per combat round, with positive DM equal to the combined level of computer, gravitics and jack-of-all-trades skills of the traveller making the attempt, by using any control console in the ship.

Alternatively, all of the anti-boarding measures can be overcome on a throw of 10+, per combat round, with positive DM equal to the combined level of computer and jack-of-all-trades skills of the traveller making the attempt, via access to a control console in the ship's computer room, secondary computer room, bridge or stand-by bridge.  Raj can also produce another small device which, when connected to the control console in the computer room or the secondary computer room, enables complete control of all automated systems.  (Raj will not reveal this device before she is able to use it — unless she is mortally wounded.)

Once control has been gained over the computer — or barring that, most of the anti-boarding measures have been defeated — Raj will visit the ship commander's cabin and retrieve a small, portable data storage device from a bulkhead-mounted lockbox there.  Raj then declares an end to the expedition; she will not discuss the data chip.

Upon return to Beater, Raj pays the travellers the balance of their salaries, including the ship-finding and boarding bonuses, and says she will make separate arrangements to recover the Banebrydende.  She thanks the travellers for their assistance and reminds them of the requirements of their non-disclosure agreements.

6) As 2) and 5) above.

In 3D weeks, the travellers will realize that there has been no public announcement of the discovery of the lost corvette in the planetoid belt of Beater.  A subsequent review of publicly available library data indicates that the fate of the Banebrydende remains unknown (with no mention of Raj's expedition).  Any subsequent return to Beater's planetoid belt will reveal that the Banebrydende is no longer at its former location.

Should the travellers have taken the data chip from Raj by force or guile they will discover that it is heavily encrypted.  An attempt to overcome the encryption will result in complete destruction of the data on a throw of 7+, per hour, with negative DM equal to the level of computer skill of the traveller making the attempt.  The encryption will be overcome on a separate throw of 12+, per four hour period, with positive DM equal to the level of computer skill of the traveller making the attempt.  The data consists of an official, war-time proposal from the Sacnoth government to the Gram government offering an armistice and proposing formal negotiations to establish a Sacnoth-Gram co-dominion over the Sword Worlds.  Within six weeks of gaining possession of the chip — regardless of Raj's survival and whether they are successful in defeating the encryption — the travellers will be pursued by a special forces recovery team dispatched by the secret service of Gram, if obtained in 5) above, or of Sacnoth, if obtained in 6) above.

Subsequent events to be determined by the referee.

[*] Inspired by "The Lost Ship," Adventure 1: Kinunir, Games Designers' Workshop (#310), 1984, pp. 6, 26-27.  No endorsement of the The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[] Non-player character Assiniboia Raj is inspired by the fictional adventurer Helena Shaw.  No endorsement of the The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.

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The Expectant Heir[*]

Location: Isenfang, Sacnoth Dominate Required Equipment: starship helpful but not necessary

The travellers are approached at a startown tavern by Sokni Shannashsson, who identifies himself as a representative of Sort Prins, a merchant security services holding based on Sacnoth.  Shannashsson has been engaged on Isenfang in business development activities on behalf of his employer and has unexpectedly come across an urgent and highly-profitable opportunity.  Ordinarily, Shannashsson would simply make arrangements for any engagement which would be accomplished by specialists at a later date but he has no such operational support immediately at hand on Isenfang and will miss the opportunity if he does not act quickly.  He has therefore decided, on his own initiative, to undertake this engagement himself but needs to hire a freelance team to support his efforts.

Image - Sokni Shannashsson

Sokni Shannashsson[]

If the travellers have a ship, Shannashsson wants to hire them to transport him and two other passengers.  (It is a bit unsettling how much he seems to know about the travellers and their ship but this would seem to confirm his employment with a security company.)  He will pay middle passage for himself and high passage for his companions through to Hofud.  Additionally, he will pay each crewmember a security specialist's salary — equivalent to the standard salary for a steward — to assist him in providing security for his passengers.  The travellers are free to make cargo and passenger arrangements at each intermediate port but must agree to allow Shannashsson to review all passenger manifests before departure, to allow him to direct crew efforts should any "incident" arise en route, and to provide three crew members — not necessarily the same crew members each time — to serve with him as security detail for the passengers while in port.

If the travellers do not have a ship, Shannashsson would like to hire them to serve in the security specialist roles as above, but will make the travel arrangements at each intermediate world himself, also paying for middle passage for each traveller.  (Shannashsson will attempt to charter a single ship through to Hofud along lines similar to those if the travellers had a ship, but multiple charters may be required en route for the entire journey at the discretion of the referee.)

The passengers will remain aboard the ship when it is in port at Gram.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) The voyage unfolds without incident.  Shannashsson's companions are a young couple, one of whom is obviously in the early stages of pregnancy.  (On a throw of SOC or less each of travellers will guess that the pregnant passenger seems to be a Gram noble, with +2 DM if the traveller guessing was raised on Gram, and/or that the other passenger seems to be a Sacnoth noble, with +2 DM if raised on Sacnoth, and with positive DM equal to the highest level of Carousing, Interrogation, Jack-of-all-Trades, Liaison or Linguistics skill.)  Upon arrival at Hofud Shannashsson will thank the travellers for their service, noting that he — and his employer — are in their debt, something they will not forget.

2) As 1) above, except that as the ship is travelling to the jump point at an intermediate world it will be hailed by the Bolide, a Meteor-class sloop, which identifies itself as a ship of the Gram Home Guard.  Shannashsson will note that the Home Guard has no jurisdiction outside the Gram system but the sloop's commander will insist upon boarding the traveller's ship.  The boarding party will be of equal numbers and equivalently armed and armoured to Shannashsson and any of the travellers with prior military service and/or combat skills or training.  They insist upon taking the pregnant woman into custody, claiming that she is carrying the heir of a prominent Gram noble.  Shannashsson refuses to release his client into their custody.

3) As 1) above, except that as the ship is travelling to the jump point at an intermediate world it will be hailed by the Litlakýr, a Pilothval-class sloop, which identifies itself as a ship of the Sacnoth Home Guard.  Shannashsson will note that the Home Guard has no jurisdiction outside the Sacnoth system but the sloop's commander will insist upon boarding the traveller's ship.  The boarding party will be of equal numbers and equivalently armed and armoured to Shannashsson and any of the travellers with prior military service and/or combat skills or training.  They insist upon taking the pregnant woman into custody, claiming that she is carrying the heir of a prominent Sacnoth noble.  Shannashsson refuses to release his client into their custody.

4) As 2) above, but as it becomes imminent that the boarding party and Shannashsson and the travellers are about to come to blows the pregnant woman will identify herself as the heir of a Gram commodore and insist that the boarders do not impede her travel to Hofud.  The leader of the boarding party, addressing her as Captain with respect and deference, will note that their orders are from her parent, the commodore, and that they have no choice but to insist.

5) As 3) above, but as it becomes imminent that the boarding party and Shannashsson and the travellers are about to come to blows the other young passenger will identify themselves as the heir of a Sacnoth hertug and insist that the boarders do not impede their travel to Hofud.  The leader of the boarding party, addressing them as Jarl with respect and deference, will note that their orders are from their parent, the hertug, and that they have no choice but to insist.

6+) As 2) and 3) above, but both ships arrive at the same time.

The young couple, one the heir to a Gram commodore and the other the heir to a Sacnoth hertug, are the parents of the child.  Recognizing that neither of their families will approve of their relationship they hope to find refuge on Hofud.  Shannashsson has been engaged to get them there at all costs.

Subsequent events to be determined by the referee.

[*] Inspired by "The Outrageous Okona," Star Trek: The Next Generation, Paramount, December 12, 1988.  No endorsement of the The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.

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The Aesir Cult

Initial location: Gram, Sacnoth Dominate

Since the establishment of the Sacnoth Dominate, an obscure religous cult has arisen on the fringes of Gram society.  The Aesir cult is a nativist movement that seeks to "reintroduce" traditions from an ancient Terran ethnic community to Sword Worlds society.  Aesirist beliefs are not popular or widely-held on Gram but the faith's practitioners stretch across all strata of society including some aristocrats.

Image - Chief Renvoran by William H. Keith, Jr.

On Spirit Journey[]

The principal manifestation of Aesirst practices is the requirement for members of the cult to embark upon individual "spirit journeys" into the wilderness of Gram in search of psycho-spiritual enlightenment.  These pilgrimages can last several weeks and many seekers are killed by the harsh conditions of Gram's wilderness environment.  But those who return — and who are rewarded with elaborate tattoos applied by the small cult priesthood — are regarded with great respect and believed to have much wisdom in all aspects of human endeavours.  Many return again and again to the wilderness to undertake more and more challenging journeys — longer periods, greater distances, harsher climes, more severe courses requiring sea-borne journeys or the climbing of mountains.  Each successful journey results in more tattooing and greater regard from other Aesirist adherents.  The most experienced of these seekers will be invited to live with Aesrist nobles for as long as they wish.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) Family members of a seeker who has failed to return when expected may hire the travellers to mount a search for the missing wanderer.  Other family members may resent this disruption and disrespect for the ritual and will seek to delay or obstruct the travellers.

2) As 1) above but the travellers have been hired by the other family members to stop the search expedition by force or trickery.

3) As 1) above but the seeker may indeed have met his or her demise in the wilderness or may yet still be alive but unwilling to accept any assistance from the travellers.

4) As 1) above.  The travellers find the seeker injured and incapacitated and return him or her to his or her family only to find they have created an enemy for life who is ashamed at not having been allowed to bring their pilgrimage to its natural conclusion.

5) While the travellers are engaged in "unofficial" activities somewhere in the Gram wilderness they are stumbled upon by a seeker involved in a pilgrimage.  Two points are relevant here.  The first is that members of the Aesirist cult have a religious regard for the natural wilderness of Gram and so are likely not to look too kindly upon people who are engaged in some sort of clandestine activity that might spoil the pristine wilderness.  The second point is that those who engage in the "spirit journey" are very hardy individuals used to surviving in extreme conditions and able to persevere in the face of great discomfort.  Such an individual will be particularly hard to stop (or kill) once he or she has realized that word of the clandestine activity must get back to the authorities at Ny Kalmar.

6) As 1) above, but the travellers find the seeker injured and incapacitated after he or she was unsuccessful in disrupting another expedition engaged in some sort of illegal, wilderness dispoiling activity.  The seeker will refuse to be brought out of the wilderness for medical care and instead insist that the travellers help him or her to track down the other expedition.

Subsequent events to be determined by the referee.

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The Darrian Base[*]

Initial location: Ansehelm, Entropic frontier

While in port at Ansehelm the travellers are contacted by a representative of Dominate naval intelligence.  The Dominate agent has learned that the travellers plan to travel along the Darrian main to Myŕ and asks them to undertake a mission for the Dominate.  The Dominate agent will provide them with a voucher for payment of a not-insubstantial amount of money that can be redeemed at any Dominate naval detachment.  The mission is to visit the secret, automated Dominate reconnaissance facility on a planetoid in the Zġazĕńḋ system, gather the appropriate sensor recordings, provide any needed repairs to the base's systems, and deliver the recordings to a Dominate naval detachment.

Image - Darrian Base by Tim Bradstreet

The Darrian Base[]

The need to protect the reconnaissance facility's secrecy will require the travellers to visit the planetoid without letting the locals on Zġazĕńḋ know of their visit.  There is no possibility of jumping into the Zġazĕńḋ system and wilderness refuelling at a gas giant.  The travellers must visit Zġazĕńḋ at some point to refuel.  Most Darrian systems have "custom" patrols which seek to maintain a "safety blockade" of any gas giants, intended to force non-Darrian ships to refuel at the main world starport but there are no such patrols in the Zġazĕńḋ system because there is no gas giant.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) The travellers are able to visit and repair the secret base without incident.  The landing at Zġazĕńḋ goes without incident and no ships are encountered on the voyage to or from the planetoid.  The sensor recordings are collected without incident and the facility requires only minor repairs.

2) Travelling to the planetoid happens without incident.  The base's computer systems have suffered a failure which prohibits the retrieval of the sensor recordings.  It seems likely that the necessary components to effect a repair could be obtained relatively inexpensively on Myŕ.

3) As 2) above but procurement of the repair components on Myŕ arouses the suspicion of Darrian intelligence authorities.  Darrian law enforcement officials will board their ship at the starport and question them about the procured components.  After an examination of the procured components the law enforcement personnel allow the travellers to depart without further incident.

4) As 2) above but procurement of the repair components on Myŕ arouses the suspicion of Darrian intelligence authorities but there is no encounter with law enforcement.  Instead, a Darrian military scout ship will be dispatched to follow the travellers' ship.  Throw 10+, with DMs for the appropriate skills, for the Darrian ship to be detected (DM +1, if the travellers are making an effort to detect any other ships) as the travellers make their way to the planetoid in the Zġazĕńḋ system.  If the travellers decide to jump outsystem rather then visiting the planetoid the Darrian ship will attempt to intercept them before they jump.

Image - Type J class Seeker by William H. Keith, Jr.

The Andante Spur[]

5) The travellers encounter the Andante Spur, a prospecting ship from Entrope, at the planetoid.  The ship is commanded by Nivian Morgan who was on her last financial leg at Nosyĕ, gave up in frustration, and jumped to Zġazĕńḋ to see if her luck would improve.  Morgan and her crew are in the middle of salvaging / stealing several small, high-value components from the facility when the travellers arrive.  Morgan and her crew have not realized the facility was established by the Dominate.

6) A 5) above, but Morgan and her crew have already surveyed much of the planetoid belt and were much surprised to find the Dominate reconnaissance facility.  Morgan and her crew have been on the planetoid for a couple of days when the travellers arrive — long enough to discover that the base is a Dominate facility and to realize that information about the base might possibly be worth much more to the authorities on Zġazĕńḋ than the salvage value of any of the equipment.  Morgan is an Entropian with no particular grudge against the Dominate but she and her crew had fallen on particularly hard times at Nosyĕ and have spent much too much time of late contemplating their fate should Andante Spur's overdue-for-maintenance life support system or drives fail.

Andante Spur is ill-equipped for any combat but Morgan is determined to turn her discovery into some sort of financial gain.  She realizes that she can bring news of the Dominate reconnaissance facility to the authorities on Zġazĕńḋ, collect some sort of "reward," and be long gone before the Dominate learns from the travellers who revealed the secret facility to the Darrians.  (She also suspects that Dominate elements are over-stretched in the Horseshoe and that the Dominate will have its hands too full dealing with the diplomatic fall-out from the revelation of the automated base to mount an effective pursuit for her.)  Morgan will likely simply decide to run but Andante Spur's maneuver drive has seen much better days and the travellers' ship should be able to overtake her well before she reaches Zġazĕńḋ.

Subsequent events to be determined by the referee.

[*] Inspired by "Listening Post" in SG1.  No endorsement of the The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.

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Dvalin's Renegades[*]

Initial location: Tyrfing, Sacnoth Dominate

Dvalin is the only other inhabited world in the Tyrfing system.  A small, rocky planetoid to which a few hundred political dissidents and common criminals have been exiled.  These "settlers," as they are known officially, often come from powerful families that have managed to protect their wayward kinsmen from execution although at a steep price.  The physical environment of Dvalin is harsh as compared to Tyrfing especially the scarcity of water but this is not a serious problem given the much smaller population.  Living conditions though are primitive and travel between the two worlds is rare with the occasional "settlers" being sent to Dvalin in expendable spacecraft incapable of making the return journey.  The "settlers" do have a primitive broadcast capability that enables them to transmit information to Tyrfing, usually simple messages for family members, but all of this information is intercepted and censored by the government.

Image - Clarkesstar by Rob Caswell

Salvage Spacecraft[]

For some time now a cadre of "settlers" on Dvalin have been plotting a return to Tyrfing and an assault on the government there.  The group is led by Catarina Riilaam, the daughter of an industrial House who was exiled to Dvalin for her opposition to the government.  The renegades have been salvaging the expendable transport spacecraft that occasionally bring new "settlers" to Dvalin and have nearly completed reconstruction of two spacecraft that might carry as many as 60 renegades back to Tyrfing.  Riilaam's lieutenant, Taavi Marin, a former Hertugsvagt officer court-martialed for killing the spouse of his former lover, is training a group of "settlers" in small group military tactics.  Riilaam plans to return to Tyrfing, make a landing at the capital, Munarvag, seize the Hertugsvagt armory, and lead an attack on the Hertugelige household aimed at taking several members of the Hertugelige family hostage.

Several aspects of this plan are overly optimistic.  There just aren't the appropriate skills available on Dvalin to reconstruct the spacecraft properly much less to fly them to Tyrfing.  They may make it into orbit above Dvalin but the interplanetary transit to Tyrfing is much more problematic.  Riilaam, the most experienced pilot on Dvalin, has only flown military grav vehicles on Tyrfing and has never piloted a spacecraft.  Still what these renegades lack in skills and experience they match in determination (or desperation).

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) The travellers' damaged or misjumped starship is forced to land on Dvalin to effect repairs.  In such circumstances the crew will be seized by the renegades.  Crewmembers with technical skills will be pressed into work on the reconstruction of the two salvaged spacecraft (and components of the travellers' ship might be cannibalized as well).  Crewmembers with piloting skills will also be pressed into service.  Of course, if the travellers are sympathetic with the renegades' cause they might choose to cooperate freely.

2) The travellers are contacted on Tyrfing by members of Riilaam's family to travel to Dvalin to assist the renegades.  They are contracted to carry certain cargo — spacecraft components, small arms, life support equipment — to Dvalin.

3) The travellers are contacted on Tyrfing by members of Riilaam's family to travel to Dvalin and secure Riilaam's return to Tyrfing.  In such circumstances, when she returns Riilaam will pressure her family into contracting with the party to return to Dvalin again with the necessary materials to complete work on the two spacecraft.

4) The travellers are contacted by representatives of the Hertugsvagt intelligence detachment to travel to Dvalin and report on the activities of the "settlers" there.  These intelligence agents have grown suspicious of some sort of renegade activity on Dvalin due to several informants among the family members of recently exiled "settlers."  Their suspicions are not yet substantiated enough that they can ask for official support — Dvalin is, after all, home to several formerly-well-connected aristocrats — but they have been able to draw upon some limited Hertugsvagt funds to hire the travellers and their starship.

5) As 4) above but the travellers are hired to clandestinely capture and return Riilaam and Marin to the Hertugsvagt intelligence detachment on Tyrfing for interrogation.

6) The travellers find themselves in Munarvag just when Riilaam and her band — against all odds — manage to reach Tyrfing and launch their assault on the armory.  Chaos ensues.

Subsequent events to be determined by the referee.

[*] Inspired by "Regin Rebels" in SG1.  No endorsement of the The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.

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The Albattar Adventure[*]

Initial location: Sting, Sacnoth Dominate

Sting has several noble houses vying to be the world's ruling dynasty.  Hertug Laagir of Maanfort, one of the chief nobles, has commissioned a starship, Endeavour (a Surtur-class brig), which he plans to use to establish a mining and trading base on the planet Albattar in the Trailing frontier.  He has hired Urip Luister, a Space Viking captain who lost his ship, Mirabel, in the fratricidal war on Durendal, to command Endeavour and establish the Albattar base.  The player-characters are Luister's henchmen, either having served with him aboard Mirabel and having traveled with him to Sting at Hertug Laagir's invitation — and expense — or having been recruited by Luister for the Albattar Adventure since coming to Sting.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) Luister and Endeavour arrive at Albattar and establish the base with no difficulties.  Luister begins mining operations and undertakes several successful exploratory / raiding voyages to nearby worlds in the Trailing frontier which encourages additional investors on Sting to support the Albattar Adventure.

2) When Luister and Endeavour arrive at Albattar, they find two "chicken-stealing" Space Viking ships, Sigrún and Runsvøbe, whose captains have claimed the planet.  The Sigrún and Runsvøbe captains had heard of the Albattar Adventure and sought to reach the world before Hertug Laagir's ship.  They really have no hope of opposing Luister and Endeavour and are instead hoping that Luister will ask them to join him rather than having to fight them off.

3) As 2) above, but the Sigrún and Runsvøbe are more formidable Space Vikings and genuinely hope to hold Albattar against Endeavour.  If successful, they will consider Endeavour — and the Sting investors in the Albattar Adventure — joining them as junior partner in establishing the base.

4) As 3) above, but Sigrún and Runsvøbe are also acting on behalf of Hertuginde Viktoria of Hofud.

Image - Mercenary Cruiser by Shawn Driscoll

Starship Gulam[]

5) Shortly before the Endeavour leaves Sting she is pirated by Hertug Laagir's estranged nephew, Ridder Dries Makardila.  In the course of the pirating, Makardila kills the financé of Baroninde Gamaagin Kaashukiin and seriously wounds Kaashukiin herself.  When she recovers, Kaashukiin trades her barony to Hertug Laagir in return for a second ship, under construction at the time Endeavour was pirated.  Kaashukiin hires Luister and they travel in the newly-named Gulam to Albattar in search of Makardila.  Makardila has established a base there with one or more allied ships similar to "chicken-stealing" Sigrún or Runsvøbe.

6) As 5) above, but Makardila is not at Albattar when Gulam arrives.  (Makardila has instead established a secret base on an unihabitable world in the Caladbolg system and has grandiose plans to takeover Caladbolg by secretly supporting a charismatic, local revolutionary leader.)  Sigrún and Runsvøbe may be at Albattar instead, either as "weak" or "strong" independents or agents of Hertuginde Viktoria.

Subsequent events to be determined by the referee.

[*] Inspired by "Casual Encounter: Gamaagin Kaashukiin," Keith Douglass, J20, pp. 26-27, 45 (which in turn seems to have been inspired by Space Viking by H. Beam Piper).  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.

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Of Monitors and Friends[*]

Initial location: Tizon, Sacnoth Dominate

Transiting through Tizon, one of the travellers decides to visit a friend they have not seen in some time, Erik Anderssen, a Dominate Patrol officer recently posted to Tizon.  (If none of the travellers is a former Patrol service member then Anderssen is a friend from one of the character's original homeworld.)  Inquiries at the starport indicate that Anderssen has been posted to a monitoring station located in Tizon's outer system but is currently taking leave in the capital.  An informal search of local pubs and gambling establishments fails to lead to an encounter with Anderssen, though a gamemaster at Wencke Thomassdottir's gambling house says that Anderssen is a regular there.  After at least a day of unsuccessful searching, the travellers are visited at their lodgings early one morning by two Patrol officers, Jorunn Ragnvaldrsson and Eydis Kalfrdottir.  They inform the travellers that Anderssen has been assigned to classified activities and will be unable to meet his friend for several months.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) All is as presented.  The travellers have had the misfortune of missing Anderssen just as he has begun his classified assignment.

2) One of the travellers suspects that the visitors are not actually Patrol officers.  If confronted with this information Ragnvaldrsson will deny the accusations, insist that the travellers discontinue their search for Anderssen and depart with Kalfrdottir.  Attempts to prevent them from departing or to follow them are unsuccessful.  Though local Patrol officials will admit there is no record of Ragnvaldrsson or Kalfrdottir among the Patrol contingent on Tizon, the travellers will fail to spark any particular concerns.

3) As 2) above, but a fight breaks out with Ragnvaldrsson and Kalfrdottir, who eventually manage to escape.  Again, the travellers will fail to provoke an investigation by the Patrol or law enforcement authorities.  If the travellers decide to mount their own effort to board the Patrol station (essentially similar to an Express Boat Tender), which monitors activity in Darrian space but is not itself a classified facility (one or more of the travellers will have sufficient Social status to arrange an informal visit), they will quickly encounter Anderssen who will be recognized by his friend to be an imposter.  The imposter will successfully flee the station.

4) As 3) above, but the imposter is able to flee only after a fight with the travellers.  As he flees the station he will initiate several pre-planned acts of sabotage.

Image - a view of Tizon from orbit

In orbit at Tizon[]

5) As 4) above, but before he can leave the station the imposter is killed by station personnel and/or the travellers.  An autopsy will reveal that the imposter is an unknown Darrian.

6) As 4) above, but the imposter is eventually captured by station personnel and/or the travellers.  An interrogation will reveal that the imposter is a Darrian agent operating in conjunction with with other agents, including Ragnvaldrsson and Kalfrdottir and the gaming house owner, Thomasdottir.  All of the other Darrian agents, including Thomasdottir, will escape.  Some months later it will be determined that Anderssen had been killed on his way to Tizon by the Darrians.

In situation 3, 4, 5 and 6, the travellers will receive an increasingly more lucrative financial reward from the Patrol but also be instructed that events surrounding Anderssen's impersonation have been classified and that they will be subject to severe criminal penalties if the information is shared with others.  They are also warned that it's possible they may be subject to clandestine reprisals from the Darrians.

Subsequent events to be determined by the referee.

[*] Inspired by "Of Xboats and Friends," Joe D. Fugate, Sr. and Gary L. Thomas with Robert Parker and Nancy Parker, TD01, pp. 3-25.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.

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Jailbreak on Joyeuse[*]

Initial location: Joyeuse, Sacnoth Dominate

Useful skills: Demolition, Liaison, Medic, Tactics, combat skills and vehicle skills (plus, upon success, Computer, Engineering, Navigation, Pilot and Steward, for ship operation)

Making the rounds of startown bars and local establishments at Burgundhaven, the travellers are contacted by Greve Markus Overgrænser, holder of Overgrænser Linjer, a Sacnoth-based merchant line, through an agent.  About a year ago, Tjener Overgrænser, Markus's 20 year old son, landed on Joyeuse as part of a "grand tour," part learning-the-business, and part pleasure.  After several days in Burgundy he had heard of the ancient Darrian ruins, located in Aquitaine.  Though warned of local restrictions on access to the ruins, Tjener insisted on going to them and (through some covert means) set out for Aquitaine.  When he failed to return the crew of his Overgrænser Linjer ship attempted to find out what happened, only to run into a blank wall of hostility and indifference from the Aquitainian authorities.  Requests to enter the lieutenancy to conduct a search were denied.

Despite every effort by Greve Overgrænser, nothing more was heard for three months.  At that time, Aquitaine's ambassador to Burgundy delivered an official communique to the Dominate governor-general at Burgundhaven, informing him that Tjener Overgrænser had been convicted of assaulting a member of the Aquitainian constabulary and had been sentenced to 30 years at hard labor.  No further word was sent, letters to Tjener have been returned and all appeals and bribes have been refused.  By spending a considerable amount, Greve Overgrænser did manage to learn the following:

a) Tjener did, by Aquitainianstandards, receive a fair and legal trial for a genuine offence (he assaulted a cop).  He signed a confession and pleaded guilty.

b) He is currently held in the Arngrim prison, a maximum security facility.

Greve Overgrænser has obtained orbital imagery of the region of the prison, which sits atop a plateau deliberately kept free of vegetation.  Orbital imagery of the prison itself shows it is surrounded by two outer fences approximately 15 meters apart.  The facility includes an administration building, a power plant, a barracks for approximately 50 guards, two large adjacent cellblocks — one for women, the other for men, each holding up to 500 hundred prisoners, and a combined factory / warehouse facility.

The Greve wants his son freed, regardless of the consequences.  To assist with this and as payment, he will give the travellers a surplus Overgrænser Linjer Friða-class trader.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) All fences in the prison are electrified; the outer fence sufficient to inflict 16D damage on an uninsulated person, but the inner only enough to incapacitate (2D damage per touch).  The 15 meter strip between is mined. (Throw 10+ to avoid a mine, with Demolition skill serving as a positive DM, unless mines are suspected — perhaps because of the triggering of a mine, or after learning about them from a prisoner — then 8+.  Each exploded mine does 3D of damage.)  Tjener will cooperate fully in his rescue; he has Rifle-2 and Pistol-1 should he be provided with a weapon.

2) As in 1) above, but Tjener insists upon freeing a young woman who is held in the other cellblock.  (Tjener was imprisoned for striking a constable who had battered the woman, Tjener's companion when he visited the ruins, while attempting to arrest them.)

3) As in 2) above, but the woman is angry with Tjener and will refuse to cooperate in her rescue.  Throw 10+, with Liaison or Persuasion skill (or Recruiting divided by two, rounding down) as a DM, for Tjener to agree to leave without her.

Image - Rescue on Ruie by Gary Johnson

Inside Arngrim Prison[]

4) As in 2) above, but the woman, Saliha Gottfriddottir, is the daughter of a Ronceveaux noble.  If she is rescued her family will pay the travellers Cr50K.

5) As 4) above, but Tjener will insist upon travelling immediately to Ronceveaux with Saliha.  Greve Overgrænser's agent will only deliver the free trader upon return of Tjener, and will insist that the travellers return to Ronceveaux to retrieve Tjener in order to take possession of the ship.

6) As 4) above, but rather than being returned to her family, Saliha insists upon coming with Tjener. (Obviously, there will be no reward from the family in these circumstances.)  A few days later, as the travellers are preparing to depart in their newly-obtained free trader, Tjener and Saliha will call at the docking bay, seeking high passage transport to the destination to which the ship is preparing to depart.  Both claim to have the assent of their respective families — the travellers will find it impossible to contact either the Overgrænser agent or Gottfriddottir's family immediately — but if the couple do depart with the travellers they will be pursued by two squads, each of comparable capabilities as the travellers and each working for the respective families.  Should Tjener and Saliha leave the ship at the destination world — they will not be inclined to do so but will not insist on staying aboard if asked to leave — the squads will not pursue the travellers further.

Subsequent events must be determined by the referee.

[*] Inspired by "Rescue on Ruie," Jeffery May, JT01, pp. 12-13.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.

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Image credits:
[ᚠ] Original illustration (detail) by David Deitrick from M1.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚡ] Original illustration by uncredited artist from A01, p. 14.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚢ] Original illustration (detail) by David Deitrick from J18, p. 13.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚣ] Original illustration by William H. Keith, Jr. from CPF, p. 26.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚤ] Original illustration (detail) by Tim Bradstreet from AM08, p. 17.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚥ] Original illustration by William H. Keith, Jr. from ST, p. 28.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚦ] Original illustration (detail) by Rob Caswell from TD14, p. 53.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚧ] Original illustration by Shawn Driscoll.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚨ] Original llustration (detail) by Joe D. Fugate, Sr. from TD01, p. 3.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.
[ᚩ] Original illustration (detail) by Gary Johnson from JT01, p. 12.  No endorsement of The Cleaved Helm has been made or is implied.



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