Prisoner of Borruque

A scenario hook for The Gaean Reach

As they track down interstellar arch-villain Quandos Vorn, the team of vengeance-seekers picks up the trail of a former accomplice who holds a piece of information key to their implacable quest. Unfortunately, this person was recently sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on the technologically advanced but philosophically cold and cruel planet of Borruque.

Space pirate, mercenary and trafficker in endangered species Xilliath Xofe now resides in the Torrentia-3 prison complex deep below the planet’s surface. Like all the facility’s convicts she performs forced labor, mining for rare earth minerals in a toxic environment.

But do not be so quick to condemn the human practices of the Borruque! Prisoners need not fear the effect of the poisonous atmosphere, as their consciousnesses have been transferred to automaton bodies. In these expendable metallic worker forms they can operate without regard to the air’s limited breathability. The equipment they use is dangerous and prone to accident, but their newly assigned bodies are readily replaceable. Though the Borruque abhor the thought of artificial intelligence they harbor no such qualms about locking the minds of criminals inside mechanical bodies and putting them to profitable use.

The vengeance-seekers devise one of their trademark clever plans to gain access to the prisoners. The Borruque disdain law enforcement professions and import guards from other worlds to staff their facilities. Because worker forms can easily be deactivated, only a few human guards are needed to patrol the complex. When in the mines they wear atmospheric suits, which are easily pierced.

The team might instead contrive to enter as observers, perhaps under the pretense of purchasing Borruque penal equipment for export to another world.

Finding Xofe among the many other robot bodies poses another challenge. Small markings on the worker forms’ external housing indicate which prisoners each contains, but putting a name with a number requires unauthorized intrusion into Torrentia-3’s computer banks.

Then there’s the third problem: prisoners’ real bodies are stored on a separate level of the prison, in suspended animation tanks.

When you serve your time on Borruque (including additional time reflecting micro-sentences for infractions committed along the way), consciousness is reinstalled in your original body. Your unaged self is then speedily deported from the planet to the louche and fading space station of Casino Six.

Prison breaks never succeed here, due to the difficulty of the two-part escape. Not to mention the need to acquire the black market technology to reunite brain and body after collecting both the worker form and the mindless, preserved biological shell. This will presumably happen on the crew’s ship, as an afterthought after the difficult bit.

Once in her body, Xilliath Xofe reveals the secret the vengeance-seekers came here for.

Which, one need not specify, is the seed leading to their next adventure…

The Gaean Reach, the Roleplaying Game of Interstellar Vengeance, brings to your tabletop the legendary cycle of science fiction classics by the great Jack Vance. This ingenious hybrid fuses the investigative clarity of the GUMSHOE system with the lethal wit of the Dying Earth Roleplaying Game. Purchase The Gaean Reach in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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