Silence of the Goatlings
an adventure

Introduction

Silence Of The Goatlings is a MegaTraveller adventure centred around a missing person case on Yori prior to the Fifth Frontier War. It is based on the write-up of Yori made for the TML Landgrab exercise on the internet, and the Referee should be familiar with that document.

The Referee needs access to the core MegaTraveller rule books, a couple of six-sided dice, and paper and pencil for note-taking. Other accessories are optional. While pizza is a common food of choice during Traveller sessions, you may find Chinese take-away (or better yet: Thai) is more in keeping with the atmosphere of Yori. (They eat a lot of rice on Yori.)

Some sections of the adventure are meant to be read out to the players (at the appropriate time). It is shown as:

Example text which can be read verbatim to the players by the Referee, but you should feel free to adapt or replace such text as desired.

Finally, the players should have their own Traveller characters … no pre-generated characters are provided here. More or less any number and type of character will do, but it would be beneficial if one character has Admin skill, and another has Streetwise. Although this should be a thinking adventure, there may be an opportunity for combat at the end.

Plot Summary:

The plot starts as a simple missing persons case. The group are approached by a local businessman whose daughter has gone missing in a rural town called Aicmata. Investigating the town, the group will find a fringe cult has been abducting passers-by and sacrificing them to a man-sized aquatic creature that has swum up from the Undersea. In addition to the patron’s daughter, they have also abducted a visiting anthropologist who was following folktales of a monster that periodically visited the area and a vehicle mechanic who ran a one-man breakdown service on the open road.

Okay, so the aquatic creature is a “Deep One” from the Cthulhu mythos, but this adventure should play better in the style of a Steven King story … like “Children of the Corn”. Strange goings-on in small rural towns, that sort of thing. And there are enough red-herrings that this could be fleshed out into a mini-campaign if so desired.

A Plea For Help

This adventure starts with the assumption that the players are in Geronemo (the startown on Yori) and that they are looking for some work while on the planet. To this end, they will be hanging out in a spacer bar in the startown … a popular location to meet prospective patrons.

The group is relaxing over a drink in one of the many spacer bars in Geronemo when two men approach them. Both are humans. One is tall and dressed in an expensive business suit. The other is clearly a bodyguard, eyes ceaselessly scanning for potential trouble. The tall man asks if he can join their table to discuss business. After he has sat down, he will begin:

“My name is John Whitlam. I’m the Regional Director of Sales for Baxter Motors here at the starport. I have a problem which I believe you gentlemen may be able to help me with. My daughter has recently gone missing on Yori, and I am terribly concerned for her safety. I can pay you Cr2,000 a day plus expenses … within reason … and a bonus of Cr10,000 when you get her back to me safe and sound. Are you interested?”

The group will probably have some questions before they accept, but if they are interested Whitlam will continue:

“My daughter’s name is Veronika Quino … her husband is dead, but she still carries his name. She’s a Scout by profession but was visiting Yori on an extended vacation. She wanted to visit some of the Scarland countryside for a few weeks and was working her way down from Market to Hemdian by ground car. The last call I got from her she’d just arrived at a small farming town … called Aicmata, about midway … and was stopping for the night. It was her habit to call in the morning and give me her itinerary for the day, but this time she never did.

“I went down to Aicmata last weekend. There was no sign of her. The local police said they’d keep an eye out for her, but they struck me as unconcerned. There is no record of her credit chip being used in Aicmata either … not even to pay for a local hotel room. She’s just vanished into thin air!”

If the group accept Whitlam will hand over an envelope containing a Baxter Motors credit chip and a memory stick. The credit chip allows Whitlam to transfer funds over the local net to wherever the group is and is stamped with his contact details. The memory stick contains several pictures of Veronika, details of her rental ground car, her original planned route from Market to Hemdian, and her actual route from Market to Aicmata (there were a few minor detours).

Scanning The Files

The first avenue of investigation is to check the local computer net. This can be done from the group’s ship (if they have one, and it is in the downport), a terminal booth in the starport concourse (cost Cr1 per 5 minutes), or most hotel rooms of average or better quality.

If the group wish to check out Whitlam’s identity then …

To confirm Whitlam’s identity via the local computer net:
Simple, Admin, Int, 5 min (uncertain).

Referee: If the players’ roll fails then no information is found. If the players’ roll and the referee’s secret roll succeed then confirm everything Whitlam told them ... he is exactly as he seems. If the players’ roll succeeds but the referee’s secret roll fails then confirm Whitlam’s identity but there is no information about any daughter.

If the group request basic information on Aicmata …

To get basic data on Aicmata from the local computer net:
Simple, Admin, Int, 1 min.

Referee: Aicmata is a small rural town of 3,500 Zhurphani and 150 humans. Its local economy is based on rice farms and Yorian Goat ranches.

If the group wish to search for clues then …

To search the local computer net for useful information:
Routine, Admin, Int, 5 min (uncertain).

Referee: If the players’ roll fails then no information is found. If the players’ roll and the referee’s secret roll succeed then a clue is found. If the players’ roll succeeds but the referee’s secret roll fails then give out a false lead.

Clues (1d6):

1) A news story (dated 3 months ago) tells of a mutilated body discovered near Aicmata. The victim was a young human woman called Amada Fitzpatrick (a junior navigation officer on a visiting passenger liner). She’d been missing for more than a week before her body was discovered dumped in an irrigation ditch on the outskirts of town. The injuries suggested some kind of large animal attack. As there are no large animals on Yori police are baffled.

2) Searching local census data reveals that Aicmata’s water supply has been steadily decreasing year after year. The local rice farms have all but gone, and the goatling ranches are finding it more difficult.

3) A recent article in a current affairs magazine details the rising worship of the fringe god Taino in rural areas of equatorial Scarland. Although the Advisors are reluctant to give out much information, in Yorian mythology Taino is Zeludeous’ younger brother. Taino is described as jealous of his older sibling’s success and he would entice Zeludeous’ supporters away with favours … but those favours often came with a terrible price. The article points out that while the Taino cult was still tiny, it was a growing phenomenon.

4) A private ‘advertisement’ lists Eneri Sharim (human male) as having gone missing in equatorial Scarland. The ‘advertisement’ was posted by his wife and asks for any information on his whereabouts. No reward is offered and it is evident that she is poor. Sharim is described as a ground car mechanic who ran a one-man breakdown service.

5) An electronic bulletin board belonging to Hemdian University reports Professor Doshari Kulkul (Zhurphani male) as not being available to lecture the following semester’s courses in anthropology. He has apparently not returned from a recent field to several rural communities.

6) Local police forces in rural areas between Market and Hemdian have stopped publishing figures on missing persons cases. The official reason is that such cases are too infrequent to bother compiling for statistical analysis.

False Leads (1d6):

1) A local news story (dated a month ago) tells of a serial killer from Hemdian who was chased to Aicmata and caught. The serial killer, Ernesto Armand (a male Zhurphani), is currently in custody in Hemdian awaiting trial. Armand is claiming diminished responsibility.

2) Searching local census data reveals the demand for organ donors in the rural areas (including around Aicmata) has skyrocketed since many people are now refusing high tech vat-grown organs.

3) A recent article in a current affairs magazine describes the problem of organised crime in Market. It suggests that the recent loss of high-tech surveillance tools by law enforcement has ‘opened the door’ to a growing black market in stolen goods. The article alleges that crime gangs have even murdered offworlders in order to take their possessions.

4) According to law court summaries the number of cases of police officers in Market being charged with corruption has doubled this year.

5) Hospitals in Market are now openly advertising for organ donors. “Top credit” for natural organs is being offered.

6) According to local news reports there has been a rise in tension between Zhurphani street gangs and offworld aliens everywhere on the planet. Violence is becoming more common. Hemdian can be proud to be the exception to this rule.

Talking With The Cops

Local law enforcement is provided by the Public Guardian Service, which provides most of the law enforcement functions throughout Scarland. The Chief Guardian in Aicmata is Cornux Relin (Zhurphani male) and his assistant is Alaken Blan (Zhurphani female). Other public guardians are local townsfolk employed on a volunteer basis.

Approaching the Public Guardian building you see it is a single-story circular building (about 22 meters across) with a low peaked roof. The walls are whitewashed, the roof is beige tile. Two enclosed air/rafts (with “PGS” on the side) and a battered G-Carrier are parked on the wide tarmacked forecourt. A simple painted metal sign at the edge of the forecourt merely says “PUBLIC GUARDIAN SERVICE” in 20 cm high letters, and nothing else.

If the players enter the PGS building …

Entering through the wide main entrance into the cool interior reveals an almost spartan foyer. A single desk, a couch, and a few simple chairs … but no posters, ornaments, or desk equipment. The floor is stone. Several unmarked metal doors lead off to elsewhere in the building.

As you walk into the foyer one of the doors opens. You get a brief glimpse of an office as a uniformed male Zhurphani comes out and meets you (pulling the door closed behind him). His uniform is stencilled with the name “Relin”.

The rest of the building comprises a few offices, a storeroom, and some empty holding cells.

Relin is a typical heavyset Zhurphani. In another life, he might have been a salt-of-the-earth farmer. He is a common-sense no-nonsense small-town sheriff. You could say there is nothing Relin wouldn’t do for his town. Although he has often had to arrest people for drunken behaviour, etc, he seldom brings charges. He has a strong paternal instinct. He is also misguided. Relin knows what is going on and what happened to Veronika Quino (and the others) … but it is bringing much-needed water to Aicmata. He believes that to allow what is happening to continue is the lesser of two evils. As such he will be obstructive and unhelpful to the group, starting out as peeved and irritated but becoming increasingly hostile as the players poke around. After a while, he may even try to run them out of town. The players are unlikely to get useful information out of him.

Blan also knows what is happening but she has been friends with Relin for a very long time, she possibly even loves him. As such she is totally loyal to Relin and will follow his lead. (So when the mutilated bodies of Professor Kulkul and Eneri Sharim turned up at the same place as Amanda Fitzpatrick she disposed of them, and didn’t tell Relin!)

The two enclosed air/rafts outside are TL-11 Cova class. (Vehicle number 74 in 101 Vehicles.) Size = 4dtons, top speed = 180kph, seats = 9, cargo = 13.5kl. They both have “PGS” stencilled on the side.

The battered G-Carrier is a second hand (or even third hand) TL-10 Motherlode grav tractor … heavily modified. (Vehicle number 65 in 101 Vehicles.) Size = 10.5dtons, top speed = 540kph, seats = 4, cargo = 5kl, with a 1 ton crane. It has been stripped of most of its sensors (it only has 50km All Weather Radar and headlights), its pulse laser, and its airlock (it no longer space-worthy). This is actually Eneri Sharim’s breakdown ‘truck’ which was being sold for scrap when he bought it. If the players realise what it is and ask Relin or Blan they will say it was found abandoned about 30 kilometres southwest of town a week ago. Relin will be reluctant for the players to get a look inside, but if they do they will find no clues.

Actually, Sharim always parked his ‘truck’ there when he was staying in town, Relin cannot decide what to do with it and it is a source of tension in the PGS building.

Cruising The Streets

If the group go to Aicmata, they will find a small ‘hick’ town. There is no street life as such, but it is possible to gain information from farmhands in the town bar.

To gain information from a conversation:
Routine, Carousing (confrontation, uncertain).

Referee: If the players’ roll fails then no information is given. If the players’ roll and the referee’s secret roll succeed then a clue is found. If the players’ roll succeeds but the referee’s secret roll fails then give out a false lead (from “Scanning The Files”).

Clues (1d6):

1) A few months ago, a female human was found dead nearby. She was discovered floating in an irrigation ditch on the outskirts of town. She was nearly “shredded and ripped apart” … her jawbone had been torn off and was missing, and her legs were found floating beside her. The local police just said it was some kind of animal attack and didn’t investigate further.

2) There is a local ‘church’ in town … many of the locals are members. The ‘church’ worships “Taino” (in Yorian mythology Taino is Zeludeous’ younger brother) who promises protection from Zeludeous. Aicmata’s water supply had been steadily shrinking over the years, and the town was facing extinction. But since the ‘church’ has started the water has returned: the irrigation ditches are full again, and the fields are fertile.

3) A one-man breakdown service run by a human male called Eneri Sharim runs through town, but no one’s seen him lately.

4) There was a visiting professor from Hemdian here recently (a Zhurphani). He was nosing around the ‘church’, but he’s gone now.

5) There was a young human woman here recently … a pretty Scout on vacation. She made friends with a passing professor from Hemdian (see #4). They’re both gone now.

6) There is a local ‘church’ in town … many of the locals are members. The ‘church’ worships “Taino” (in Yorian mythology Taino is Zeludeous’ younger brother) who promises protection from Zeludeous. A local goat rancher by the name of Trepe Bervoir (Zhurphani male) introduced the worship of Taino into the town. He holds sermons and other rituals up at his ranch house.

If the group go to Market, they will find a ‘normal’ city … a cross between Vegas (USA) and Rotterdam (Holland). Keeping to the main area will be safe but unproductive. Searching out the bad parts of town will reveal a barely concealed world of seedy casinos, narcotics and prostitution. Gambling is legal, but many con operations exist to rip off the unwary. Possession of drugs for personal use is permitted, but while unregulated sources are cheaper, they are also more dangerous. Prostitution is legal up to a point: it is illegal for a prostitute to advertise, it is illegal for more than one prostitute to work in the same place (apartment, etc.), pimping is illegal, and the age of consent is 16 standard years. Black market goods are usually half the regular price but may be stolen and/or defective (roll a red and a white six-sided die: if the red die is odd then goods are defective in some non-obvious way, if the white die is odd then goods are stolen). In any case, there will be no leads to Veronika Quino.

To gain information from a conversation:
Routine, Streetwise, Carousing (confrontation, uncertain).

Referee:  There are no leads to Veronika Quino, but success can reveal there is a thriving black market ... run by Buxton Jones (a Zhurphani male) with tacit approval from an Advisor.

If the group go to Hemdian, they will find a ‘normal’ city. Hemdian is much cleaner than Market (both metaphorically and literally). There is very little that is seedy or unsavoury in Hemdian. Nice for tourists but quite boring for adventurers. Again there will be no leads to Veronika Quino.

To gain information from a conversation:
Difficult, Streetwise, Carousing (confrontation, uncertain).

Referee: There are no leads to Veronika Quino, but success can reveal the University Medical Center will buy natural organs without making proper background checks. On failure, the street contact turns out to be an undercover policeman ... depending on what the character was asking he or she may be guilty of some crime (if cash was offered for information then this includes attempting to bribe a police officer).

Next Of Kin

Eevet Sharim is the wife of Eneri Sharim (the roving ground vehicle mechanic and one-man breakdown service). She works as a waitress at a cheap dinner on the outskirts of Market. The dinner has no name and is only open during the work periods.

As you enter the dinner, you see a long counter with a Formica-like top and a dozen bar stools. Behind the counter stands a waitress filling sugar bowls (or is that salt?). Behind her is a wall with a serving hatch, through which you can see a kitchen. The whole place seems cheap and slightly run-down; the air is stale and still … almost claustrophobic. Apart from the waitress, the place is deserted.

The waitress is a middle-aged, slightly gaunt, human female. She wears a cheap dress and apron and looks like she’s lived longer than chronological age. Her lifeless movements tell of a tiredness that goes deep into the bone. She appraises you with a cynical stare, sighs and says “What can I get you?”

This encounter will not be very productive. Eevet knows nothing, except that her husband is missing. She probably loved him once, too, but now he’s just another piece of the furniture of her life. She thinks he’s dead … lying in a ditch somewhere after a crash … but would like to know for sure.

Skool Daze

If the group decide to snoop around the University of Hemdian (where Professor Doshari Kulkul was from), they may not find much. The university is in “recess” (summer, mid-term, whatever fits in with the time of year) and most of the staff are away. Only two departments are open: the admin department (on a skeleton staff), and the library (with a staff of just one).

The admin department, open only to keep things ticking over during the recess, will be reluctant to give out any information. They will confirm that Professor Doshari Kulkul was a lecturer in anthropology at the university, he was the leading expert on Yorian mythology (outside of the Advisors), and he has gone missing. He was supposed to be working over the recess, but he has disappeared … and he is not at home.

The library is open for no apparent reason but has more promise for the group.

As you enter the library, your first thought is that you’ve entered some kind of relic storeroom by mistake: before you is a large open space with a big table, beyond which are isle after isle packed with actual hardcopy books! Several weighty tomes lie haphazardly on the big table. The musty smell of some much genuine old paper outside of a low-tech world seems exotic … almost decadent. A female Zhurphani of slight frame is sitting beside the table lost in one of the books. She looks up in surprise at the intrusion.

“Yes?” she says, and then “Oh, oh, er, Welcome to the library … er … where the books live.” She flashes you a wide, friendly grin, which falters slightly with embarrassed shyness.

The book reader is the librarian. Her name is Gipert Rules, and every year she has to tolerate the new students’ jokes about her name. They are the same jokes each time, but of course, the students think they’ve come up with something new and witty. Fortunately, most of the students avoid the library like the plague. The book she is reading and the rest on the table are all on the occult.

Gipert knew Professor Kulkul personally and knew Kulkul was working on a new book … exploring the mythology of Yorian culture. (Of course, such a book would horrify the Advisors.) Recently, Kulkul heard of a new cult growing in rural areas. Kulkul thought such a cult might be the early sign of an impending change in the ascendant god of Yorian religion. Thus he had gone on a field trip to the countryside (including Aicmata) intending to only be gone a week … he never returned.

The Ditch

If the group decide to investigate where Amanda Fitzpatrick’s mutilated body was found (assuming they have the directions) …

Following the directions, you were given you come to an unremarkable stretch of farm irrigation ditch. It is three meters across, has steep sides, and is cut straight across the land. It is about half full of clear water, and from the hardy grasses, it looks like its usually less full (the grasses on the edges are submerged). There is no sign of violence or any kind of struggle … not surprising given the time. There is nothing to indicate that this stretch of irrigation ditch is any different to any other.

There are two things of note: First, the ditch runs through Trepe Bervoir’s land (Trepe Bervoir is the head of the Taino cult). Second, if the players use a densitometer or similar device they will discover the ditch is fed at this point by an underground stream (well hidden beneath the weeds).

The Goat Ranch

If the players have picked up the right clues then sooner or later they’ll want to look over Trepe Bervoir’s farm.

Trepe Bervoir’s goat ranch looks decidedly out of place, even in Aicmata. It consists of a stone house, a large sheet-metal barn, several smaller metal sheds, and a pen with about a dozen Yorian goats. In all, the appearance is of a rundown low tech farm: only the large barn seems to have electrical power … supplied by a makeshift overground cable from the town. The ground is worn bare of grass.

How this goes depends largely on what approach the players take. Trepe Bervoir is an ageing yet rugged Zhurphani. He will not be interested in talking to the players, answering their initial questions with non-committal grunts. He will not allow them access to any of the buildings … the players must use stealth or force. Only the barn holds anything of interest but let the players exert themselves in the other buildings if they wish. The interior of the barn is described in “Creature From The Depths”.

Creature From The Depths

Inside the barn, electric lights have been strung between the rafters. This harsh light illuminates a water-filled hole or well of some kind in the middle of the floor. Three pairs of beams reach up from the floor to support the roof, and tied to one is a bedraggled human figure … female. Looking closer you see the figure is none other than Veronika Quino! She is unconscious but alive.

The barn is used by the ‘church’ for ritual services and it’s possible that the players will choose to enter the barn during such a ritual. If they do, then they will see some kind of ritual summoning by Trepe, after which a creature (described below) which the cult members believe to be Taino will rise out of the hole and walk over to Veronika. If not stopped, it will cut her free with its claws, take hold of her head and snap her neck. Then it will take the body and jump back into the hole. The assembled cult members will applaud and then disperse.

If at any point the players try to stop the creature then it will attack the players unless and until it feels outmatched, then it will flee down the hole. It will psionically assault the best-armed player first, then use telepathy to induce panic in everyone present while simultaneously attacking physically with its claws. Meanwhile, the cult members will also attack the players.

If the players try to rescue Veronika before the creature appears, then they will have to fight the cult members first. The creature should appear in the midst of combat, use telempathy to induce panic in everyone present and then attack physically with its claws.

Alternatively, if the players enter the barn when it is empty and go over to untie Veronika then the creature will attack the players. It will use telempathy to induce paranoia between the group members (trying to get them to shoot each other), followed by general feelings of panic, before rising from the hole to attack physically with its claws.

It is also possible that the players will wait outside the barn while the ritual takes place, unaware of its significance. They will hear typical ritual goings-on ending in applause, after which the cult members will disperse. Entering the barn then they will find the torn ropes that held Veronika and a few strips of cloth. Observant players looking for forensic evidence will find DNA traces of Veronika (some blood on one of the upright beams, a few hairs at the edge of the hole). There will also be similar DNA traces of Amanda Fitzpatrick, Professor Kulkul, and Eneri Sharim.

Wily and well-armed players may think to pre-empt anything coming out of the hole by dropping grenades (etc.) down the hole at the start. However, the hole is not straight, and so this will be ineffective until the last moment before the creature appears. The creature can use Life Detection to detect an ambush.

The creature is an amphibious bipedal humanoid. A half Zhurphani, half frog-like being with a fish-like head. It has a greyish-green skin, shiny and slippery, with a white stomach. It has bulging eyes, palpitating gills, and its claws are webbed.
Amphibian Creature
QtyAnimalMassHitsArmourWoundsWeaponsReactions
1“Taino”100 kg6/6jack2clawsA0F6S2
This bipedal creature can walk on land at speed=1 but swim underwater at speed=2. It is a water-breather but can survive out of water for half an hour.
Despite exhibiting animal intelligence only (albeit high), it has psionic abilities:
- Psi=12
- Telepathy (Life Detection, Telempathy, and Assault only)-6
- Awareness-6.

It is left to the Referee to determine events after this encounter, but if ‘Taino’ is killed then the cult members (most of the townsfolk) will be seized by a murderous rage!

If the Advisors are called in, the entire town will be sent to the exile camp on Heddle (elsewhere in the system). The official position will be that the creature was not Taino but one of Taino’s minions. Thus the townsfolk were following the will of a god. As such, their actions cannot be considered to be murder under Yorian law … but due to Imperial law, neither can they be permitted to continue. Exile to Heddle becomes the only option (unless Taino becomes the ascendant god on Yori in which case the townsfolk will be allowed to return). This is not the first time something like this has happened, and Imperial policy is to accept the exile option.