Paul Marquis Illustration © 2004 Louis Wu and Chmee investigate the Starport Ledge in Ringworld Engineers (novel by Larry Niven).
If you have any material (including cameos, hooks, fully fleshed out scenarios or campaigns or even a short story that can spark off a game scene) then please send it to me and I'll post it here with a credit to you. They can be set on Ringworld or in Known Space even in a different era to Ringworld. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPOILER NOTICE!!! - IF YOU ARE NOT A GAMES MASTER PLEASE DON'T READ THE MATERIAL BELOW - IT MAY LESSEN YOU ENJOYMENT AS A PLAYER.
KZIN AND COUNTRY by Simon D Hibbs.
The players are the command crew of a Kzin fast attack ship during the first Man-Kzin war. They are selected on Wunderland for a secret mission to intercept and investigate an STL colony ship on an unusual trajectory, heading far from human space. They must try to board the ship and determine it's destination and purpose. Long live the Patriarch!
The human ship is in fact not human at all, although it does originate from Sol system and was launched some decades before the outbreak of the war. The ship is in fact a City Builder ramship that was stranded in Sol system millennia ago through damage to the life support systems. The wreck lay in a highly eccentric orbit, inert and lifeless, until it was eventually discovered by a Belter salvage crew.
At the time the relationship between the Belter government and the UN was at a low point. The examination and handling of the ramship was handled by a select cabal within the Belter government. They decided that the knowledge they gained from the City Builder ship was far too dangerous to entrust to a bunch of paranoid, navel gazing flatlanders. They therefore decided to act independently for the good of the species.
The City Builder archives on the ramship were a fabulous treasure, the most valuable of which was a description and location of the Ringworld. It took over a decade to complete a thorough examination and refurbishment of the City Builder ship. In the end, there was only one use for the ship even considered. They would man the ship with an elite crew, make an epic voyage across space to the Ringworld system and make contact with the City Builder civilisation.
Preparations for the mission were made at a secret facility far out in the Oort cloud. Unfortunately this was one of the first human outposts to be discovered and assaulted by the first Kzin invasion fleet. In the chaotic confusion of the first battle for Sol system many of the personnel and secret archives documenting the mission were lost to Kzin attacks.
From here on, events are largely determined by the actions of the players. All they know is that a fast human ramship is heading off towards galactic 'north' at a hell of a pace. It doesn't appear to be heading for any nearby stars and isn't anywhere near any known or suspected human colony worlds. There aren't any records of the ship in any of the histories of space flight and the colonisation effort captured in human public archives. Evidently it is some kind of secret military or exploration mission. The player Kzin must approach the ship, neutralise any weapon systems and active crew, capture the ship and determine it's mission.
Unless the Kzin can capture the ramship and gain control of it, this is effectively a suicide mission. Their own ship doesn't have enough reaction mass to decelerate back to galactic average velocity, let alone set off on the long journey back to Kzin space. Even getting up to the awesome speed of the ramship in the first place required the assistance of a sister ship to give them a speed boost at the beginning of the mission. Their only hope is to take control of the ramship and fly it back to the patriarchy.
If the Kzin do manage to capture the ramship, what then? Do they turn back, assuming sabotage by the human crew doesn't make that impossible? Do they continue on towards the Ringworld? The City builder archives clearly indicate the presence of Kzin on the ring. What plans will they make for dealing with the City Builder civilisation?Further Notes
Once the Kzin capture the ramship, they may beam a message back to Wunderland, just in time for the Wunderlander Kzin to be beaten by the FTL human fleet, and so the message is lost. They couldn't beam a signal to Kzinhome because the Doppler shift on their message laser beam is outside the acceptable range for standard Kzin comms equipment. Kzin ships usually never reach such high velocities as they aren't sustainable. Only their home base on Wunderland knew which direction to look for a message and to use specialist equipment to pick up the heavily blue shifted signal.
Of course, once the ramship arrives at the Ringworld they find that the City builder civilisation they were hoping to contact is long fallen. I leave subsequent events to your imagination, but there’s always the possibility of an expedition from the UN or Kzin arriving at the ring, possibly following the events from the scenarios in the Ringworld RPG or the companion. Neither would know anything about the arriving ramship.
A longer and perhaps more satisfying way to run the game would be to start off with the players taking the part of the salvage team that first discovers and explores the City builder ship. The Belter government cabal that takes over the ship might then offer them places on the ship when the time comes to despatch the expedition, after a break of a few years. After all, the top secret nature of the mission narrows the choice of available crew. They must then go through a special training and selection process to prepare them for the mission and contact with the City Builder civilisation they expect to encounter. The Kzin intercept mission should come as a complete surprise.