Rock the Kasbah
The Traveller scenario for the National Wargames Convention (NatCon) 1986 Roleplaying competition. Written the night before the convention after I discovered I was one of the Umpires. It's a very loose adventure for a party of up to eight players and is set on the desert world of Nikon/Nolgor.
Imperial Interstellar Scout Service Report: 2457/10/0107
Subject: Alcor VI (local name: Nikon) N-0107 B-462625-8
Reporting Officer: Tol Akzor, IISS Nolgor/Nolgor Office
Nikon, or Alcor VI, described as the lower gate to the Nolgor subsector (from Gamelea subsector), is a small, harsh, Non-Industrial world with a population of 3,000,000 sophonts. This is a rather marked increase from the Survey of 1099. Nikon has one small moon and the Starport has two Orbital Stations, 6 tugs, 2 Tractor tugs, 11 tenders, 2 Repair tugs, and 14 shuttles. Safe Jump Zone is 400,000 miles out from the planet and Gas Giant refuelling is available at Alcor I.
Nikon is well known for its ceramics, porcelain, textiles and jade carvings. A flourishing export industry has grown up around these crafts and provides the bulk of the planet’s Offworld exchange earnings. Nikon’s greatest tourist draw-card is the famous Coloured Desert, where a stunning display of multi-hued mineral salts draws thousands of visitors to the planet each year.
The local population is believed to be of Solomani-Arabic descent and speak a dialect of Low Nolgor Basic. Most male Nikonese, upon reaching Manhood (which is considered to be 17 years of age), wear some sort of bladed weapon, be it a serrated knife, a curvy bladed dagger, or the shamsheer – a heavy scimitar, treat as Cutlass+1, requires at least Cutlass-1 to wield effectively. Nikonese culture is extremely polite. In the arid regions in and around the Coloured Desert, the Nikonese draw heavily upon their desert-dwelling ancestry and this can be seen in the local building and dress styles.
Visitors to Nikon should be aware that the local religion of Quajoshi’isim is observed very strictly by 97% of the local population with alcohol, for example, being totally prohibited outside the Offworld Quarters of the larger cities.
The note invites them to visit the ‘Tent of a Thousand Delights’ (a club not far from the Kasbah, on a side street) where one Abdulon ibn al’Qua craves audience with them.
Abdulon ibn al’Qua proves to be a large man of Solomani-Arabic descent (ie a local) with a large shamsheer thrust through the sash around his waist. After exchanging pleasantries (“isn’t the dust mild for this time of year”, etc) and drinking the customary cup of keffhi, Abdulon will invite the party to accompany him. He will lead them out of the ‘Tent of a Thousand Delights’ via a side door and down an alley into a small courtyard. Knocking at an inconspicuous door, he enters, gesturing for the party to follow him.
The party enter a small room where they see a man, dressed in obviously Offworld clothes, seated behind a small table. With a nod, Abdulon withdraws outside.
Gesturing for the party to be seated, the mystery man introduces himself as Ivar Kaplan, a Professor of Pre-Imperial History from the University of Nolgor, currently teaching and doing research at the University of i-Jedda.
Professor Kaplan has spent the last twenty standard years researching the history and ethnology of the Desert Folk of Nikon and was about to publish a book of his findings. Amongst other things, his book contained proof of his theory that Nikon was settled as a Penal colony during the Second Imperium (-2204 to –1776), some 2000 years earlier than currently believed.
Recently, Professor Kaplan’s office was broken into and his manuscript, as well as all his notes and papers on the subject, were stolen. He suspects that the local Iman (a politico-religious post, sort of Bishop-Mayor), Ali Muhammad ben Quiji, is behind the theft. Kaplan’s theory, if published, would, the Professor believes, undermine the teachings of the Quajoshi’ites that Nikon was the world chosen by God as the dwelling place of His children to prepare them for their ascension to Paradise.
Kaplan offers the party Cr10,000 for the recovery of his manuscript and papers. It should be made clear that this sum is his life savings and he can afford nothing more.
If the characters insist on being paid in advance, Kaplan will arrange to have Abdulon meet them at the ‘Tent of a Thousand Delights’ in two hours with the agreed advance. The rest is now up to the characters.
The Iman Ali Muhammad ben Quiji will be easy to locate. He has offices and a residential suite attached to the Golden Mosque, the main mosque in i-Jedda, and is currently officiating at ceremonies that mark the beginning of the Holy Month of Rammuth Dan. The Iman will be in the city for another two days before leaving for his desert retreat at the Shrine of Kui’jai, some 50 kilometres into the Coloured Desert. He will remain at his retreat for the duration of Rammuth Dan.
The Iman spent a large part of his youth Offworld attending various centres of learning, before returning to Nikon to take up his duties. His religious beliefs are still strong but have become tempered with political cunning. He was behind the theft of Professor Kaplan’s papers but more for the reason of maintaining the status quo in Nikonian society than for any moral outrage. Ali Muhammad is an amateur historian and finds Professor Kaplan’s theory and reasoning interesting but potentially politically unsettling.
If the characters investigate the Golden Mosque, they will find great crowds of people moving through it, carrying out their religious business. Security seems to consist of two burly, red-turbaned guards standing at the main door of the Mosque. Each guard is armed with a shamsheer, but has a submachine gun hidden away in his robes. To the left of the Mosque is the Administrative compound. This is a two-storied edifice, built around a central courtyard with a fountain. Apart from the main gate, there are no other breaks in the exterior walls. Again, there are two guards at the main gate, similarly attired and equipped as the guards at the Mosque. People may freely enter the courtyard of the Administrative compound but the guards on the gate, and the guard who patrols the courtyard, keep an eye on things.
To the courtyard come those who wish a quiet word with the Iman, or with his religious or secular assistants, over spiritual matters or to pay their taxes or seek a judgement.
The courtyard always has twenty to sixty people in it, sitting in the shade of the balconies, or near the fountain, and partaking of the heavily spiced keffhi that is provided free of charge as they wait their turn in the queue. A new arrival cannot linger long in the courtyard before an Assistant will approach to discover the visitor’s business, who he wishes to see, and to offer keffhi while he waits.
Characters waiting in the courtyard will notice a heavily ornate door, opening off the balcony, midway along the west wall on the second floor. If they enquire, they will be told that that is the door to the office of the Iman, may his shadow never grow any less, etc.
The balcony is of heavily ornate wrought iron and it is possible for a reasonably dexterous person to scale it from the ground, or to clamber down it from the roof.
Eventually, someone will hit on the idea of searching the Iman’s quarters. At night security at the Administration Building consists of two guards stationed just inside the gate (which is closed at sunset) and a third who patrols the courtyard and the ground floor. In the event of trouble, and additional six guards, armed with autopistols and autorifles, will arrive from quarters to the rear of the Mosque in 1d6+1 combat rounds.
Having eluded the guards and entered the Iman’s office, a search will reveal nothing, unless a check is made behind the middle picture on the north wall.
Here will be found a wall safe. A character with safe-cracking experience should be able to get the safe open reasonably easily, and quietly.
A character investigating the Iman’s desk will, on an Intelligence roll, discover a hidden button that will reveal a secret compartment. Inside the secret compartment is a diary that will have an entry, dated two days ago, mentioning the departure of some functionaries to the Iman’s desert retreat with ‘the dangerous goods’. On the inside front cover of the diary is a five-digit number. This number is, of course, the safe’s combination and the ‘dangerous goods’ are Professor Kaplan’s notes.
Inside the safe are some papers (actually stocks and bonds) and about Cr 5,000 in several wads of bank notes. Sitting on top of the bank notes is a large scorpion-like creature, known locally as a srudarghi. If the characters manage to deal with the first srudarghi, two others will emerge from a nest in the banknotes if these are disturbed. A good solid blow with a boot or heavy object will kill the srudarghis outright, but if they succeed in stinging a character, that character will loose 2 END per combat round until loosing consciousness. The stung character will continue to loose two characteristic points (either STR or DEX) per round until death, unless a medic can stabilise the victim.
Key to the Iman’s Residence and office in i-Jedda
Pilgrims’ Hostel. A two-storey building providing minimal accommodation for Pilgrims. The stairs leading up to the second floor can be seen on the map. A hatchway leads onto the flat roof, frequented during the long evenings when it is cooler than staying inside.
Alley between the Guesthouse and the Administration building. No windows overlook the alley.
Administration building. Two stories high with no external windows. All rooms have windows overlooking the central courtyard.
Hatchway giving access from the second floor corridor to the roof.
Balcony. Running around the entire courtyard-side of the second floor. Made of wrought iron. A person on the balcony would be hidden from anyone standing in the courtyard if they did not move, and the light was dim. Fifteen doors open off the balcony into various rooms. All the rooms on the north side of the building are also connected by an internal corridor.
Staircase leading up to the balcony. There is also an internal staircase in the eastern part of the building.
Fountain. A plain structure designed more for functionality than artistic merit.
The ornate door leading into the Iman’s Private Offices.
The Iman’s Private Library. Several freestanding bookcases, as well as bookcases along the walls, contain paper books, scrolls and data cards. There is a chair and desk – with computer and other office supplies – against the south wall.
The Iman’s Private Office. Bookcases line the west, south and part of the east walls. Three large, religiously themed paintings hang on the north wall and there is a freestanding conference table. A large desk and three chairs complete the furnishings. Behind the middle picture on the north wall is a hidden wall safe.
The next course of action is for the characters to visit the Iman’s desert retreat. The retreat is at an oasis some 50 kilometres into the desert – about two days journey by local dromedary–analog, or a day if the characters hire an ATV (at vastly inflated rates). There is an important local shrine at the oasis and regular caravans of pilgrims make the trek across the desert, so the actual getting there should pose little difficulty.
The Oasis Retreat
Note: The Oasis portion of this adventure was never developed any further as I ran out of time. From what I can remember of the convention, none of the parties I ran through the adventure actually got (or needed to get) as far as the Oasis. The players must have enjoyed the game as I was awarded the "Best Gamesmaster" medal by popular vote.
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