The Frogg That Kissed the Prince

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by Tom Verreault

Background

Prince Vasselloff of the Royal Family of Clarion was attacked on a boating tour of the Karimeko Rain Forest of Clarion. He and many of his Royal Guard bodyguards were all injured but are listed in stable condition at the Royal Valentina Hospital. Other reports of disappearances in the Karimeko Rain Forest have been surfacing and the Crown is dispatching a team to investigate.

The Karimeko region is a 10 million square kilometer rain forest. Near its center is a 10 kilometer high plateau of granite that is the only suitable location for an airport in the whole region.  This landing field was originally an emergency landing site for space-capable craft needing a safe landing zone in this region, but it has grown into a rough star port used by privately owned vessels (yachts). There are several waterfalls that let rain water escape from the plateau and at the base of one of these is the outpost Karimeko Falls which is where fishing and science expeditions usually set out into the rain forest.

Deep Background (Referee’s eyes only)

On the planet Starmist a secret sathar lab developed weaponized versions of at least 10 common and harmless creatures found throughout the Frontier sector. One was native to Clarion: the frog. [NOTE: if the Starmist module was played in your local game adjust this background to match the results of that game.] The frogs are native to Clarion and its wet environment. As stated in the Sundown on Starmist module, they are harmless and virtually invisible in the environment. However, it appears that samples of the bio-engineered weaponized frogg made it off Starmist and a sathar agent has introduced it on Clarion. This invasive species has become an infestation in the Karimeko Rain Forest and is wiping out most other species of creature it displaces as well as killing some sapient beings.

Froggs

Type:

Small Carnivore

Number:

1 to 10

Move:

Very Fast

IM/RS:

8 / 80

Stamina:

10

Attack:

75

Range:

10m (leap)

Damage:

3 points

Special Attack:

None

Special Defense:

Camouflage allows surprise 85% of the time

Frogg constructs resemble frogs from Clarion. They are totally invisible in most terrain and attack instantly by leaping for the face of any character for a successful bite causing 3 points of damage. If they miss, they disappear into the surroundings. Only a character with a RS equal or better than the frogg has the chance to hit one. The froggs attack with surprise 85% of the time. Each attacks randomly only once.

Poison Variant: The above file is the standard model developed on Starmist but the poison variant is a new development. This frogg has a special attack of poison mucous on its body. Any contact with the frogg (a successful attack by the frogg or by the character upon the frogg or bare handed examination of a recently killed or captured frogg) requires a STA check or poisoning results. If the frogg has successfully bitten the character the STA check has a -20 modifier. The poison is not potent: S3/T5 (3 points of damage per turn for 5 turns) but if multiple froggs bite one character it could be deadly. The medic subskill Neutralize Toxins need only be used once to neutralize the poison form multiple bites.

Note: the referee may use both variants of frog or simply use only the poison variant for the increase in hazard to the player characters.

The Sathar Agent

Reginold Golly, aka Ringo Galaxy, is a charter ship captain who recently upgraded from a system ship to a corvette class ship. He is a sathar agent and the sathar financed his new ship. He’s used it to smuggle colonies of froggs into the Karimeko Rain Forest. When not running a charter he typically rendezvous with a sathar ship beyond the asteroid belt and returns with the weaponized froggs to the rough landing port at the Karimeko Plateau.

Ringo Galaxy (STA 50; RS 55; PS 3; IM 6; RW 65; Melee 50) Skiensuit, power belt pack, albedo screen, gyro-jet pistol, 2 clips, 2 tangler grenades, sonic sword w/clip.

Ringo’s Luck (corvette class ship: HP 25, Weapons LC & LB, Defenses RH & MS x2; ADF 3; MR 3: DCR 60, Other: radar & external camera systems). Crew: Captain Ringo: pilot; Bob the Blob: astrogator, & Singhai: engineer. Referee note: substitute other corvette stats as desired and use the corvette deck plans in Star Frontiersman #17 or the Red Thunder from issue 9 of the Frontier Explorer.

Bob the Blob, dralasite (STA 40; RS 30; PS 4; IM 4; RW 40; Melee 35) Albedo suit, laser pistol, power belt pack.

Singhai, yazirian (STA 35; RS 55; PS 3; IM 6; RW 55; Melee 50) Skeinsuit, electric sword with clip, laser pistol, power belt pack.

The Player Characters

Depending on the skill system being used, at least one character should have environmental or biology skills. The bulk of the player characters should also be in service to the Monarchy, either Royal Marines, Royal Guard, or even Royal Mounted Constables who act as a planetary police force and wilderness rangers.  It may be that Star Law will assign an agent to the team to investigate the possibility that this is a sathar plot, though he will not disclose any information on the Starmist File till he confirms that these are indeed the sathar constructs from Starmist.

Weapons skills will come in handy by the end of the adventure when the team boards a handy Royal Marine assault scout to run down Captain Ringo and his ship.

Investigating the Attack

Interviewing the Bodyguards

If the players think to interview the bodyguards, they will describe carnivorous frogs leaping for the face and biting off chunks of flesh and possibly the poison feature to the attack. No data is available on the poison as the effects of the poison were over before they reached medical facilities. The prince is in seclusion till the plastic surgeons can fix the severe damage to his face and is not available for questioning at this time. Note: there has never been a frog of this type discovered by science on the planet Clarion.

The Crypto Coot

At some point before the player character hit the jungle, they may encounter John Sweden, a writer and cryptozoological enthusiast. John believes in unknown lake monsters like the Jockmess Lake monster rumored to be living in Lake Jockmess 500 km from Valentina, the capitol city. He’s heard reports of the carnivorous frogs and is touting them as an undiscovered creature which in turn supports his theory of the Lake Jochmess Monster being an as yet undiscovered creature. He will try to get the player characters to confirm the existence of carnivorous frogs even before their investigation is underway and will be a nuisance about it.

The Fisherman

The reports of disappearances in the Karimeko region are the highest they’ve been in twenty years and one report included a survivor’s testimony of a fisherman (Jake Trout) who lost his fishing partner to “leapin’ carnivorous frogs”. Trout was sued by the family of his partner for wrongful death and has since dropped out of sight so that only his news footage interview is available to the players. It describes a basic instant attack with the victim falling overboard and Jake fleeing the scene when his friend never surfaced under a storm of frog attacks. The consensus is that Mr. Trout never waited to help his friend and simply ran in panic. Several bite marks can be seen in the holo footage. Initially he was not believed and his friend’s body was never found.

Poking Around

The players will need to venture into the jungle by boat (provided) from Karimeko Falls. The included map shows the region surrounding Karimeko Landing and the falls.

They will reach the site of the attack on the Prince within 3 days and experience typical jungle encounters. The jungle will be mysteriously empty and quiet around the area of the attack and rotting carcasses of small creatures killed by the froggs may be found.

Eventually the player characters will be attacked. If they managed to kill or capture a frogg the investigation can transition to hard evidence.

A character with environmental skill (or similar) can analyze both frog samples and the ecosystem as per the subskills in the Alpha Dawn rules. Specimen tests will reveal that they are similar but do not match any known frog species found on Clarion.

If there is a Star Law member of the party looking into a Starmist connection he can reveal his secret knowledge about the frogg weapon developed by the sathar on Starmist at this time. If no Star Law agent is present, allow the environmentalist to conclude that this creature is bio-engineered.

An analyze ecosystem check will reveal that the froggs are an infestation planted in various locations. Based on the rate of expansion by this invasive species, one infestation is approximately 40 days old and another is approximately 20 days old. Note that an analyze ecosystem check takes 200 hours and characters are typically active for 10 hours out of a 20 hour GST day. Normally this would require 20 days but you can allow characters doing this skill check to make it after 10 GST days of jungle exploration rather than let it drag on.

Investigating the Infestation

Having learned that these froggs are an introduced species and having a timeline on when that happened may lead the PCs to discover the seeming coincidence that the start of each infestation is timed to the arrival of Ringo’s Luck to the plateau above Karimeko Falls. If the players check the records, the only ship or vehicle to arrive in the region at the time the infestations began is Ringo’s Luck. If they ask around further, they will learn that Captain Ringo also likes to rent a boat and go fishing when he visits though he never seems to catch any fish.

Ringo’s Luck is not on planet at this time. Captain Ringo filed a flight plan listing the ship as on “private charter” and stopping at Planaron Station to take on atomic fuel. A spacer will think it is odd that he did not top at Clarion station where atomic fuel is cheaper. Planaron station has fuel available for prospectors and mining ships but usually at a markup for the convenience of saving such customers the trip to Clarion for fuel. Note: Planaron station was detailed in Frontier Explorer #1:

http://www.frontierexplorer.org/book/planeron-station.

Tracking Ringo’s Luck

If the players have already been active as Royal Marines, they may already have an assault scout assigned as their ship and can use this. If they are a scratch built team for this investigation, they will be assigned a ship with minimal crew who will run the ship while the player characters continue their investigation.

Ringo’s Luck did indeed dock at Planaron station briefly to take on atomic fuel and while the ship’s engineer, Singhai, was loading that, he was also seen purchasing 5 kilos of TD-19 and a variable timer. Blasting compound like TD-19 is readily available on a mining station like Planaron so its purchase did not raise suspicions, but clearly a ship’s engineer could not be in more than one place unless possibly a holo screen was in use. It was the passenger on board the ship that purchased the explosives (see below) as by the time of the corvette’s docking at Planaron, word of the attack on the Prince had reached the station and this passenger is making contingency plans.

Catching the Ringo’s Luck

The players can play out a KHs scenario where 3 assault scouts run Ringo’s Luck to ground and disable it. Captain Ringo will refuse to heave to and be boarded due to the presence of his passenger (a sathar observer). He is also hoping that the sathar ship he’s supposed to rendezvous with will show up soon.

Place the Ringo’s Luck in the center of the map with a speed of 10 and 3 assault scouts on 3 different map edges (one long edge and two short edges) with a speeds of 12. A sathar destroyer with a speed of 20 will turn up in 4 to 9 turns (1d6+3) on the long map side that did not have an assault scout. The destroyer will not slow down but will close with the corvette and fire on it to destroy it before accelerating off the map. The referee may use what’s known as “referee fiat” to destroy the ship’s engines in this attack.

The players may opt to have the assault scout with their characters close with and board the corvette while the other two ships continue to chase the destroyer. The chase of the destroyer may be handled in an abstract manner. There is a high likelihood that two undamaged assault scouts, pursuing a sathar destroyer within the range of their weapons, can outright destroy it. This is because the destroyer’s heavy weapons are forward fire and it lacks the ADF and MR to effectively turn and engage the smaller assault scouts; nor can it outrun them.

Going On-board

Use one of the suggested corvette deck plans to run the boarding of Ringo’s Luck. The crews of the corvette are sathar agents and will fight to the death. The sathar observer will be on the bridge rigging the main computer with the 5 kilos of TD-19 to prevent its capture by the Royal Marines. The side effects of detonating the explosive will be his death and a hull breach that blows his mangled body into vacuum. Require the player characters to make a RS check to grab onto something and save them from also being blown into space during the rapid decompression of the ship’s bridge.

A referee should apply damage to decks that would fit the damage observed in the ship to ship combat. Some deck may already be in vacuum having lost their atmosphere. All beings on the corvette will be in vacuum suits.

Epilogue

The sathar, as per their long range goals to disrupt Frontier civilization, have introduced an invasive species to Clarion that may prove impossible to eradicate. The Prince will need to undergo plastic surgery to undo the damage done to his face. The player characters will be commended for a job well done if they unravel this sathar plot. If the corvette is captured the prize courts will grant approximately 3000 to 8000 credits per surviving crew and team member on all three of the assault scouts with ship captains gaining a double share.