Bajoran Occupation Scenario One:
A time to live, a time to die…
(Note to Narrators: At various times, particularly when a roll involving Perception is required, a list will be presented detailing what the player accomplishes based on the score of the roll. Everything listed for that score and below is accomplished. For example, a roll of 7 would allow the player to do or see everything listed for rolls of 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.)
Chapter one: Message in a bottle
While walking down a busy street (or being otherwise engaged in somewhat normal activity in crowded conditions, such as at a market), one of the PCs is rudely bumped by a passerby. Use the player character who is most likely to be publicly connected with the resistance or to publicly have pro-resistance sympathies. People do not have to know for sure the character is in the resistance, but traits such as open kindness and generosity mixed with a public lack of Cardassian sympathy might be indicators that the person would be sympathetic to the cause.
Have the player make a Perception roll. Note that more than one PC may roll if several are traveling together when this incident occurs.
Perception 5: They notice the bump is harder than normal
Perception 6: They suspect they were hit by a pickpocket
Perception 7: They notice the face of the person who bumped them
Perception 8: They remember the person as a local farmer
Perception 9: They immediately notice the person put something in their pocket (or bag, etc.) – a Cardassian PADD, somewhat worn and dirty.
Perception 10: They recognize the person who bumped them as a seller of local spring wine
If the PC scored a Perception 4 or less, they won’t realize that the PADD has been given to them until the person is long gone. If the PC at least scored a Perception 5, they may desire to find and chase after the person – Darara Kan, a 60-year-old man with a face well-worn with time and sorrow. Like most of the crowd, he is dressed in rough, slightly dirty clothes.
If players wish to give chase, Observation is more important than speed here because the crowd inhibits movement. Catching Kan will require the player to be successful at several consecutive Perception rolls. If desired, raise or lower the target number depending on whether you want the players to contact Kan now or later in the adventure:
Perception 9: The PC notices which way the person went. If chased, Kan will run into an alley, then enter a side door
Perception 9: The PC notices which doorway Kan entered. The doorway leads to a local pub, full of tired and depressed trades people.
Perception 9: The PC notices Kan going into a back room – a storage area, usually off limits to most customers.
If players attempt to enter the back room, they are confronted by the barkeeper, Sabarr Res, who is a longtime friend of Kan’s. Res doesn’t know what Kan did to get these strangers running after him, but the bar owner is willing to protect his friend to the end.
Players attempting to fight the barkeeper will soon have a mob of people on them, as Res is a friendly and honest guy who is respected by most of his customers.
If a player attempts to run past the barkeeper:
Dexterity 8: The player makes it into the storeroom.
Perception 8: The player sees Kan hiding behind a crate.
The players can also attempt to convince Res to letting them into the storeroom. Make the players talk it out instead of rolling dice. If they simply explain the facts, let him know they don’t intend to harm his friend or haul him off to jail, Res will eventually let the players into the backroom and call to Kan to come out of hiding.
Darara Kan is well-known to the people at the bar, and they’ll vouch for him as an honest, hardworking fellow. If the players are persistent, they’ll learn that Kan has no love for Cardassians – his daughter was taken away two years ago by a lecherous Gul, and his wife was killed attempted to intervene.
If the players aren’t mean, Kan will reluctantly talk to them:
If the players attempt to activate the PADD, they’ll find it doesn’t work If the players decide to try and figure out what’s wrong with it:
Intelligence 6: The PC sees the battery is ruined.
Intelligence 7: The PC realizes the battery was ruined by immersion in a liquid.
Intelligence 8: The PC thinks the PADD will be mostly okay once it’s cleaned.
Intelligence 10: The PC knows how to replace the power source if another PADD’s battery is available.
Intelligence 12: The PC can figure out how to adapt a similar power source to the job.
Getting the new battery or a similar power source could be an adventure in itself. If so, play it by ear, improv the details and allow the players to eventually succeed without too much trouble. The players may have to turn to other resistance cells for help, may attempt to steal a PADD from a Cardassian soldier, or may attempt to get a battery on the black market. Make it fun but not too complex a subplot.
Once power is obtained, players can attempt to access the data:
Intelligence 6: There are two files on the PADD.
Intelligence 7: One is a video message, the other is graphical.
Intelligence 8: The files can be accessed and displayed.
Both files are partially corrupted, and there’s nothing the PCs can do about it.
The video message shows a young woman with long, straight black hair tied up in a neat ponytail. Standing in a darkened room, it appears that the woman is surrounded by various types of scientific equipment. Looking around nervously, she begins to speak quickly but quietly, almost in a whisper:
"My name is Freyla Blin. Please help me. I am being forced to conduct weapons research for the Cardassians. I would refuse, but my family is being held hostage. Now they want me to help in a project that is so evil, any sane being would consider it blasphemous. If I don’t cooperate, my family will be killed. But the project must be stopped, even if it means destroying the orb. No … there must be another way! My map contains most of what I know about the facility, and the PADD is programmed with the access codes needed to get inside. I don’t know exactly where I’m being held, but the lab is located apparently on an old Moba fruit farm along a river about 10 decatires east of Retasha Pass. It’s an ugly green building. I … I have to go. I hope there’s enough information to …"
All of the original, uncorrupted message is listed above, but it is recommended that the Narrator replace some of the information in the message with static. Deleting part of the message because of file corruption could have major impacts on the plot. For example, if only static is heard when Blin mentions the Orb, the players may be totally surprised when they eventually find the orb box in the lab. And not knowing the name of the mountain pass will almost certainly require the players to seek out Kan so he can describe exactly how and where he got the PADD.
The second file on the PADD is a folder containing two illustrations that represent Blin’s map of the facility. The maps are incomplete because:
Nonetheless, the maps will likely be very valuable to the players.
Map A is Blin’s representation of the facility’s location relative to the Moba fruit farm. The circles represent the orchards. The wavy line represents the river, with the direction of its flow represented by a long arrow alongside it. The short arrow points to the entranceway that can be unlocked by Blin’s PADD.
Map B is Blin’s way of showing the players how to navigate through the confusing halls of the science facility. The writing on the map is Bajoran (easily readable by any Bajoran player) for "My room," "Laboratory" and "Family’s room." Doors to the rooms are marked by dark circles. The Narrator can decide which room is which, but it is recommended that Blin’s room be the one to the right of the entranceway, the laboratory be the one to the left of the entranceway, and her family’s room be the one furthest from the entranceway. Not all of the hallways that are on the map actually go where the map indicates – a significant part of the map is actually based on just good guesses, although it can be assumed that the aspects detailing the routes down the hallways to her room, her family’s room and the laboratory are right on the mark.
Chapter two: Up the river
The players now have several courses of action:
~ The players could attempt to check into the validity of the message by trying to find out any possible information about Blin or her family.
General Community Knowledge 6: You (or somebody you know) vaguely remembers the Freyla family. Blin’s parents were both respected artisans. Her mother, Grem, was a potter, and her father, Laan, was a woodcarver. Their works often featured religious icons honoring the Prophets worked into the design.
General Community Knowledge 8: You (or somebody you know) remembers details about the Freyla family. There were two boys, both younger than Blin. The entire family was suspected by their neighbors of being collaborators because were treated fairly well by Cardassians and they got extra rations.
General Community Knowledge 10: You (or somebody you know) remembers that the entire family disappeared about six months ago, and their neighbor reported seeing them being led away by Cardassian soldiers.
General community knowledge 12: You (or somebody you know) remembers Blin as a little girl. She was very smart and loved math. Then, at a young age, she disappeared, although her family remained. You never found out what happened to her, and the family didn’t talk about it.
Bajoran Academic Knowledge 8: You remember Blin as being a very intelligent young physics student in a Cardassian guidance program. You know that Cardassians test Bajoran children at a young age to see if any have an intelligence that may be useful with training. Blin and similar children are taken from their families at an early age to live in dormitories at the Bajoran Center for Science and their families are rewarded with extra rations. The children are encouraged to study through gifts, such as her family continuing to receive extra rations.
The following information would be known only to Blin, but she could possibly share it with the players at any dramatic or slow point later in the game, such as during deathbed apology if she is shot while escaping, or as an explanation to the players after they get to know her:
After Blin’s graduation from the academy, she intended to continue serving the Cardassians as a physicist. Her dedicated love of science, her academic isolation and separation from the normal life of a Bajoran and her belief that her service would continue to help make it easier for her family whitewashed over any feelings she might have against helping her planet’s captors. Before becoming a student, however, Blin was often taught by her parents about the Prophets and the Orbs, and she always maintained in secrecy her childhood faith. Therefore it came as a surprise to her supervisors when she refused to conduct weapons research in an attempt to harness the energy of an Orb. Even when threatened with execution, she refused. In reality, her supervisors had no desire to kill her and throw away all the years of work and training she had undergone at Cardassian expense. To force Blin to follow her orders, her family was brought to the facility as prisoners with the threat that they would be tortured and killed if Blin refused to do as she was told.
~ The players could attempt to find Kan (if they haven’t found him already) and convince him to tell them everything he remembers about how he got the PADD.
If the players didn’t catch up to Kan earlier in the adventure, let them see him again in the marketplace if they go back and look for him. This time, make the perception rolls low enough that they’ll be able to follow him to the bar.
Kan is naturally trustful toward other Bajorans, and if the players convince him of their good intentions, he openly confides in them the details of how he came across the PADD. However, he’s a bit nervous, so he gives the info a bit of a time, doling out more in response to prompting and questions from the players. For example, consider the following possible dialogue:
"Where did you find the PADD?"
"I was searching the bottom of my boat, y’see, and I found it stuck to the bottom."
"Stuck to the bottom?"
"Yeah, it had a metal awl-like thing attached to it, like a piece of testing equipment or something. That’s what kept it stuck to the bottom of my boat."
"Why were you looking at the bottom of your boat?"
"Oh, because she told me too. She told me I should because she saw woodworms holes were rotting it away. I knew that couldn’t be true because woodworms can’t survive in the water, but I was suspicious so I checked anyway once I got away from where the spoonheads could see me."
"Who told you to check?"
"It was that woman you told me about. The woman who sent you the message. See, she fell in the water near my boat, and I pulled her out, and as I was lifting her up she told me to check the bottom of my boat for woodworms because it was looking rotted. I thought she was an idiot at first, but she seemed pretty smart to be working at a place like that, so I later on figured I’d do what she said. Of course, seeing she was working with spoonheads, I really shouldn’t have trusted her, but from what you people are telling me, I guess it was a good thing I did."
"She fell into the water? On purpose?"
"Hard to say, really. Oh, thinking now, I’m sure she did. But at the time, it seemed like an accident. I make a trip out along the river every week to sell my wine, and the spoonheads who work there seem to really like to buy it, even though I charge them five times as much as what I charge anybody else. So I was out there, and that woman came out of the building, and she walked toward the shore toward my boat, and she slipped off the bank into the water and kept thrashing around until I finally got her out. She was quickly taken back inside, and a couple of soldiers came onto my boat and kept searching it as if she gave me something, but they never found anything, and I had to leave without anybody buying anything. But I guess she did slip something to me after all, right?"
And so on. The more Kan talks, the more he opens up to the players, and eventually he may become so chatty that the players don’t know how to nicely get him to shut up!
Crafty players may try to convince Kan to take them along the next time he sells his wares. Kan will get nervous and refuse out of fear for his own safety, although he will change his mind if the players bring up what the Cardassians have done to him and try to urge him to vengeance or justice. It isn’t too hard, however, for the players to convince him to let them borrow his boat if they decide to pose as merchants on their own.
~ The players could also simply use the sketchy info they have and head out toward the approximate location of the facility.
If the players decide to attempt this route, have them make a couple of appropriate rolls to see if they can even figure out where the should be going:
Bajoran geography 5: The player knows Retasha Pass is a path through the Dahkur Mountains leading from Serpents Ridge into the Lenar Province.
Bajoran geography 6: The player knows the pass is inside of the Dahkur Province, known for its rolling hills. It’s soil, formerly very rich fertile, has almost been destroyed by decades of harsh mining operations by the Cardassian occupation force.
Bajoran geography 8: The player knows Dahkur’s provincial capital is known for its high population of artists.
Note that all of this info should be relatively easy to learn, even if the players fail their rolls. The Narrator possibly should just give all of it to the players automatically if they say they try to do any research or start asking people about the Retasha Pass region.
Finding the exact location of the Moba fruit farm without any help from Kan, however, will be a trickier situation, but definitely not impossible.
Chapter three – Riding the rapids
Eventually, the players have to find out where the Moba fruit farm is and make an attempt at finding a way to physically get there and into the science facility. Ingenious players could likely find a variety of ways to achieve this goal that no Narrator could imagine ahead of time, so encourage creativity and be willing to go along for the ride with whatever your players dish at you!
It’s also important not to let this part of the mission become a bottleneck of frustration or an insurmountable barrier to the players. Getting to the building undetected should be difficult but by no means impossible for players who actually put some thought into it. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use the abilities of the characters when you set the targets of any necessary skill rolls so that the players can do the job, but not without sweating a bit.
Whether it’s from talking to Kan or exploring the countryside on their own, the players finally find and reach the outskirts of their destination.
From along the road that travels along the old wooden fence that travels along the borders of the old farm, everything seems pretty normal for the casual passerby. Although they haven’t been tended in ages, the orchards of Moba trees still fill much of the land, providing a good natural barrier around the activities at the facility.
If asked, the Cardassian researchers at the facility would say they don’t really care what passersby think. Anybody getting anywhere close to the building – which from the outside looks like a routine Cardassian bureaucratic outpost – would find that unauthorized entry is barred by a very tall, very high voltage wire fence surrounding the main grounds. Even if the electricity didn’t fry trespassers, monitors and parameter detectors would track their attempts to walk or fly onto the site.
The idea of sneaking in on a merchant’s boat will probably occur to at least one of the players – and it just might be successful, depending on the team’s acting abilities. But there is another route that probably has the greatest likelihood of success – silently traveling under the river’s surface by night.
If this sounds like it’s all too easy for the players to sneak inside – well, it’s not.
Note: For reasons that will be clear by the end of the scenario, the Narrator should casually, without drawing any attention to it, take a few notes about what the players are saying and doing as they try to enter the building, and what they do immediately after entering the facility.
Chapter four – Port of death
As the players enter the facility, now comes a critical time where the Narrator must lead them to an inevitable conclusion – their doom. It is critically important that two things happen while the players are still inside the facility:
The easiest way to accomplish this is to have the players trip an alarm while they’re in the middle of the facility, causing all the exits to be sealed and guards to come running down the hall, disruptors blazing.
Note that if the players use Blin’s PADD to unlock the door to her family’s quarters, it will set off a trigger alerting facility security.
To make the plot as effective as possible, it is very important to never let the players realize that their characters will be coming back to life before the end of the scenario. Let them get depressed – it can be a good way for them to realize that a resistance fighter’s life was usually short and usually ended violently – but don’t let them tear up their character sheets! If they want to leave, somehow convince them to stick around to see how everything turns out. Surprise is of the essence here, but do what it takes to keep the players around for when they’re needed again.
As with most Cardiassian government buildings, the research facility is dreadfully dull inside, with hall after hall consisting of bleary light gray walls alongside unmarked dark doors. The Cardassian design theory appears to be that if you don’t know where you’re going, then you shouldn’t be going there. Near every door handle is a small black scanner box used to verify permission for entry.
If the players attempt to enter the facility by day, they’ll find scientists, assistants and occasional guards walking casually down the moderately-lit halls.
By night, however, it’s a different story. Although those who wish to stay close to their work are offered lodging in modest apartments in the building, most of the personnel live offsite. After normal hours the few people remaining at the facility consist mainly of dedicated researchers trying to complete a project, scattered guards making their rounds, and occasional late visitors.
Most personnel at the facility carry PADDs wherever they go, which are not only used to store personal data, but also serve as both identification badges and keycards used to unlock doors to areas connected with their work. As players probably found out at the facility’s outside door, a quick swipe of the PADD near a door’s scanner box is all that’s needed to open it – that is, if access has been allowed for that PADD’s user.
Usually, an unauthorized attempt to open a door will only cause a blue light to blink on the scanner. Repeated swipes with a PADD that is not authorized for entry will probably eventually alert security. Some doors, particularly in especially secure areas, will raise an alert if even one unauthorized attempt is made – as players will likely find out when they attempt to free Blin’s family.
Because she is a Bajoran, Blin is not privy to extensive details about the research that other scientists are doing, but she does have some facts. If asked about the facility, she can give the players the following info:
(Alternately, the players could learn the above info if they somehow gain widespread access to the facility’s laboratories or somehow convince somebody who works at the facility to talk.)
Blin can also provide the players with further information regarding her research and the situation at the facility. Her views on such subjects are quite tainted by her own opinions, guesses and assumptions, but she is pretty much on the mark about the following info:
Narrator’s background information: In exchange for receiving access to the Orb, Vedek Gant promised Gul Jardin his full cooperation in turning in any suspected collaborators – and as a trusted confident of many important members of the community, Gant promised to provide information that would be impossible to obtain through any other means. Jardin, happy to have found such a valuable collaborator, was more than willing to allow Gant to share access to the Orb, which Tabrin’s protests had no chance of overcoming. Although Gant’s motives won’t come up during this adventure, they could easily be the focus of a future scenario.)
By following Blin’s map and carefully counting the intersections, the players should have no problem finding the entranceways to the three indicated rooms:
Chapter five – When it rains …
Some Narrators may feel awkward about wantonly killing off almost every one of the characters during this scene, but remember that the only way things can go wrong is if you don’t make sure that the last surviving character makes it to the lab.
Depending on your style as a Narrator, the players can be killed in one of two ways:
One way or another, the alarm has been raised with the players caught in the middle of the facility. Chances are Blin and her family are still trapped or the virus has not yet been implanted in the laboratory computer.
A good way to develop the incredibly depressing mood of this section is to have Blin’s father holding on to her mother, helping her to start moving down the hall – then roll some dice behind a screen, drop your jaw in surprise and look sadly at the players – then announce that the sound of a phaser blast fills the air as the horrified players see the two elder Bajorans suddenly brighten and disappear, vaporized by a direct hit. Or you could have one of the players be vaporized by the hit instead. Either way, everybody will suddenly know things have take a serious downturn for the worse, and things can move on from there. (And if you don’t want to decide ahead of time how a role will turn out, you can instead tell the players that they hear a click, and before they can react the area if filled with a half-dozen phaser blasts. Surely, at least one of them will hit one of the players, Blin or her family).
Again, it cannot be stressed enough that the players must not realize that they are destined to die. Let them kill some Cardassians by firing back. Let them finally break free and run down the hall toward the exit. Let valiant players volunteer to keep the Cardassians pinned by phaser fire while the other players escape. Let the characters make perception rolls to determine where the Cardassians are coming from – the first set of Cardassians soldiers will fire from behind the players, and the second set will come from outside through the door in front of the players, probably just about the time the players are thinking they might just escape from this mess.
Don’t make this part fly by too quickly. Run it like a typical shootout. Make the players believe it’s the conclusion of the game, and that there’s a chance they’ll survive.
Always keep clear the way leading to the lab. Keep Blin alive for awhile so she can direct players to the lab if they run out of ideas. One idea is to have Blin hit by a phaser and, as she lies dying, she begs one of the players to take her PADD to the lab to infect her computer with the virus. As the team (and possibly the remaining family members) head down the hallway toward the lab, feel free to pick some of them off.
It’s okay if several members of the team survive to get inside the lab because none of them will make it out alive. Players may have truly clever ideas about using Blin’s science instruments as weapons – but although she has a laser, it is not powerful enough to do any serious damage. Players may notice the air vents, but after climbing on the table to reach the ceiling, they’ll realize they’re too small for anybody to crawl through. The players will probably get really frustrated (maybe even angry) as they run out of ideas while Cardassians pummel the thick metal door over and over.
Possibly a player will decide on their own to open the Orb box and pray for help from the Prophets.
Otherwise, have the explosion occur as above, but it causes the Orb to be blown off the table and land beside a player – preferably one who is mortally wounded who is close to death. The force of the blast causes the box to open, and when the player looks inside at the dazzling brightness, they will find themselves drawn in by the sacred Keepers of the Light.
Chapter six – Beyond the sea
A slight amount of live-action role-playing is required to achieve the maximum psychological effect for the following scene. With any luck, you’ll create a gaming experience that will stick in the minds of your players for a long time.
Plenty of copies of the script should be photocopied ahead of time, enough for every player who might possibly be a part of the game. Using a highlighter pen, mark the lines on each script that you want its reader to recite. You may want to wait to mark the scripts until you know for sure how many players you will have. Don’t forget to mark as many scripts as there are players – that way, there will be one for you to read, and one for each of the "deceased" players. Make sure your copy has the first line marked, because you’ll be going first to set an example for the other players.
After the previous scene in the laboratory draws to a tragic close:
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS
CAREFULLY AND SILENTLY :
When instructed, please follow the Narrator to an open area of the room. He will have you stand around another player, who will have his or her eyes closed and will not know what is going on. That player has been taken out of linear time and into the Orb by the Prophets, who have surrounded the player while they discuss his or her fate. After that player opens his or her eyes, the Narrator will read the first line of the script, then pause to let the player respond if they so desire. Then, whoever has the next line marked on their sheet should read it aloud then pause in the same fashion. This will proceed until all the lines have been recited. Whatever the player might say or ask after you read your lines, do not answer questions or directly respond in any way. Instead, remain mute until it is time to read the next line that has been marked on your sheet. After the last line has been read, please quietly return to the gaming table.
Thank you for your help!
After the "deceased" players have surrounded Survivor and they’ve had time to look over their scripts and read the instructions:
Chapter seven – Up the down stream
Narrator’s note: Survivor did not actually survive – she died, killed by Cardassian weapons, as she was looking into the Orb. The Prophets, in their infinite wisdom, decided to send her back in time to save her life.
Tell Survivor that she is suddenly standing in the laboratory again, but now she is fully healed and facing the room’s main computer console. Immediately in front of her, blissfully unaware of her existence, is the room’s only other occupant – an older Cardassian male intensely studying a video file playing on the computer monitor.
Chapter eight – Doubling back against the flow
Once Survivor realizes what happened and how far back she was sent in time, have the other players take up their character sheets and start replaying their attempts to open the door. Have the duplicate survivor do as much of the same behavior as she did when the group first attempted to enter the building – don’t forget to consult your notes if necessary!
Chances are, Survivor will be waiting for them as soon as they open the door – but it’s wise not to assume too much, and as Narrator you should be open to any unusual courses of action she might take. Being faced with the idea of meeting yourself, not to mention having to try to convince your partners that you’re actually from the future, could make anybody behave a bit left of center.
Assuming the two Survivors get together, the duplicate will be very suspicious and will start asking some pretty personal questions. It could be rather interesting to bounce some oddball queries unexpectedly off Survivor (What’s your favorite dessert? Who was the first person you kissed romantically? How did you join the resistance?) and hear her impromptu responses.
If needed, encourage the other players to be suspicious, too, because it’s not every day that somebody claims to do what she’s done.
Once everybody gets going again on the rescue attempt, gaining access to Blin’s room will be just as easy as the first time. And just like the first time, the alarms will go off and everybody will probably die if they attempt to use Blin’s PADD to open the door to her family’s room.
All in all, it’s best to not let the players rescue the Orb, if only because history notes that the Orb of Time wasn’t returned to the Bajoran people (at least, not permanently) until several years after the end of the Occupation. If the players want to try to take the Orb, they’ll find it won’t be easy:
Chapter nine – Drying off
Assuming that at least some of the players were able to successfully leave the facility with Blin and her family, getting away is basically a reverse of getting in – however that was accomplished!
If they try to escape under cover of darkness using the river route:
But once all those obstacles are overcome, everybody can rest easy knowing that the mission was a success.
A nice epilogue to the adventure might be:
"It is the unknown that defines our existence" – Ancient Bajoran proverb