A scenario hook for Ashen Stars
The lasers take a contract from the Combine Xenoarchaelogical Foundation to protect the ruins on Delaney. This largely uninhabited world contains remnant structures from the dimly-known ancient civilization known to Combine scholars as CIVA-3. This enigmatic culture left ruins across the worlds of the Bleed. On Delaney the most celebrated of these, a mammoth coliseum, faces the threat of destruction from a group of entertainment entrepreneurs, the Silik. They intend to use the coliseum as the backdrop to record holographic footage of gladiatorial combats between modified shuttlecraft.
When the crew travels to Delaney to speak with them, the Silik say that the planet is now a salvage world. As such they have the right to do whatever they want with what they find there. The Silik have broken away from the Combine and argue that its legal jurisdiction over Delaney and anything that might be found on it lapsed when they evacuated their people from it during the Mohilar War. Although they claim it is not their objective to destroy the ruins, they’re clearly setting up their shuttle battle to allow for this possibility.
The Silik introduce the crew to their large families and hungry children. This is how they make their living in an unforgiving sector of space. Would they let their young folk starve, merely to please distant scholars enforcing a rigid edict from the comfort of worlds in the wealthy core?
If the crew agrees that Delaney is a lawless salvage world, they can legally interfere with Silik, going so far as to physically sabotage their production. By the same principle the Silik have every right to retaliate against the crew for attempting that.
As the lasers settle into whatever course they decide to pursue, a fresh complication arises. Ships of an obscure people, the Jeropus, descend on the scene. The Jeropus High Captain warns both sides to evacuate so his fleet can level all signs of CIVA-3 occupation. They refuse to explain why, requiring the crew to penetrate the fervently held taboos they maintain around this subject.
They discover that the Jeropus refer to the CIVA-3 as the Slaughterers. They committed atrocities against the Jeropus so vile that mere mention of their existence is considered an obscenity. The Jeropus say they have a religious obligation to extirpate any trace of the long-dead Slaughterers from references in historical works to archaeological sites such as the coliseum. To impede them would be to commit a great crime against their people, and would be viewed as an endorsement of the Slaughterers.
Today they want the ruins. Tomorrow they may come after the Combine Xenoarchaelogical Foundation for blasphemously maintaining records about CIVA-3.
With one faction seeking to recklessly exploit the ruins and the other to erase them utterly, and each acting ethically according to their own principles, the crew faces one of the ethical dilemmas investigation in the Bleed is famous for.
Ashen Stars is a gritty space opera game where freelance troubleshooters solve mysteries, fix thorny problems, and explore strange corners of space — all on a contract basis. The game includes streamlined rules for space combat, 14 different types of ship, a rogues’ gallery of NPC threats and hostile species, and a short adventure to get you started. Purchase Ashen Stars in PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.