Amber Zone - Saving the Throne

Last Updated 2 March 2004.

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1999 #471

Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 20:04:27 GMT
From: Jeff Zeitlin
Subject: Campaign Hook: Saving the Throne

I encountered an interesting factoid (veracity undetermined) while reading the soc.history.what-if newsgroup. On my way to the bank to get some cash, it was percolating through what's left of my mind, and teamed up with some arcane constructions that can be used to justify some things that would seem to be against Traveller canon. This was the result...

Canonically, the Imperium doesn't allow polities to join, only worlds. However, it's equally canon that associations - customs unions and postal unions, for example - between member planets can be formed; the only outright prohibition would appear to be tariff/commerce unions. Additionally, the Imperium does not interfere with the internal governance of a world, and there are records that show that a member planet may own another member planet. Thus, the prohibition on polities seems to mean only that the Imperium won't recognize them as such.

The interesting factoid is that if the Grimaldis can't produce an heir to the Monaco throne, the principality reverts to being part of France.

*Poster's note to referees: Change names and dates as appropriate, dammit!


Campaign Hook: Saving the Throne

NewsNet Special Alert

CARLSMONT CITY, 110-1105 - Grand Prince Isharii, Prince Royal of the Principality of Carlsmont, has been seriously injured in an air-raft accident while returning from a ski holiday in the northern mountains. He is undergoing surgery at ...

Grand Princess Eloise was also injured in the accident, though apparently not seriously. She is remaining by her husband's side during this ordeal. Doctors are maintaining a close watch on her, to ensure that her unborn child, the heir to the Principality throne, is healthy. ...

The young couple, celebrating their second anniversary, had taken this holiday as their last opportunity to enjoy their favorite recreation before Her Highness was to be prohibited by her pregnancy from engaging in overly strenuous physical activity. ...


CARLSMONT CITY, 111-1105 - A weary-appearing Dr. Theoden Kamehameha-Galishakaa reported that Grand Prince Isharii's condition has been stabilized, although His Highness is in a coma. His condition has been upgraded from Critical II to Critical I, and he is on full life-support in the Critical Care Unit at the hospital. The medical team assigned to His Highness are reporting that they have every hope that he will make a recovery, but caution that His Highness's injuries are quite severe. ...


CARLSMONT CITY, 113-1105 - Doctors for Grand Princess Eloise have announced that Her Highness will not be able to give interviews in the immediate future. Her personal physician, rushed to the hospital on short notice late last night, refused to do more than say that she is in no danger, although weak from the stress of recent events. ...


NewsNet Special Alert

CARLSMONT CITY, 115-1105 - Although no official word has come from doctors or the Royal Household, NewsNet has learned that Grand Princess Eloise miscarried two days ago. Although distraught, Her Highness is apparently healthy. ...

Doctors remain optimistic about Grand Prince Isharii's prospects, although he is still deep in a coma. His Highness is progressing well, and there is every likelihood that he will improve enough to be removed from full life-support within the next few weeks. ...


NewsNet Special Alert

CARLSMONT CITY, 118-1105 - Unofficial reports from sources at the hospital indicate that Grand Princess Eloise was rushed into surgery early this morning. One hour later, hospital administrators banned the press from the premises, and the Royal Guard assisted in the expulsion. ...

Reports from the Diplomatic Quarter and from Government watchers seem to indicate that both the State and Foreign Ministries have cancelled all appointments, and called in all personnel who are on leave. ...


CARLSMONT CITY, 119-1105 - Duke Shaamika, the Ambassador to Carlsmont from the Kingdom of Seetay-Lumyere, was abruptly summoned to the Ministry of State this afternoon. He emerged a short time later, but refused to answer any questions concerning his summons. ...


CARLSMONT CITY, 121-1105 - A spokesman for the Ministry of State today officially announced today that Grand Princess Eloise had indeed miscarried eight days ago, when she stopped giving interviews. He professed no knowledge of any subsequent surgery, although he stated that the doctors had Her Highness under close observation. ...


CARLSMONT CITY, 123-1105 - The Ministry of State announced that His Highness, Grand Prince Isharii, had been moved out of the Critical Care Unit and into the Intensive Care Unit, although his condition has not as yet been officially upgraded from Critical I. Grand Princess Eloise is reported to be in good condition, though she continues under observation. The Ministry spokesman again denied any knowledge of surgery subsequent to Her Highness's miscarriage. ...


CARLSMONT CITY, 124-1105 - Although no statement has come from the Ministry of Defense or from the Seetay-Lumyere Embassy, observers have reported to NewsNet that the Carlsmont Detachment of the Seetay-Lumyere Combined Arms appears to have recalled all personnel from leave. ...


NewsNet Special Report

CARLSMONT CITY, 125-1105 - Although Carlsmont and Seetay-Lumyere have had a close relationship these past three centuries, few people realize just how close - and how fragile - that relationship is. NewsNet's Historical Research Section has obtained a copy of the Charter granted by the King of Seetay-Lumyere to the first Grand Prince of Carlsmont, and direct ancestor of Grand Prince Isharii, Lavrenti Artekata. The charter specifies that if the Artekatas cannot produce a male heir to the throne of Carlsmont, the grant shall be revoked, and Carlsmont shall revert to being a province of the Kingdom of Seetay-Lumyere. ...


CARLSMONT CITY, 127-1105 - The Ministry of State announced today that Grand Prince Isharii has been removed from full life-support, although he still requires assistance to breath. He has not regained consciousness as yet, though his doctors remain guardedly optimistic. Grand Princess Eloise remains in good condition under observation; the Ministry expressed hope that she will be willing to give at least a short interview in the near future. ...


The Briefing

At any time after the report of 119-1105, the PCs may be approached by someone representing either Seetay-Lumyere or the Carlsmont Ministry of State. The contact should be a close personal friend of one of the PCs, and both the contact and the PC should have a history of trusting the other to be discreet when necessary. The contact emphasizes that this is certainly necessary this time, to the extent that all of the other times are public announcements in comparison. He then hands the PCs a packet containing a photograph and other information, and briefs the players as follows:

"His Highness is in worse condition than has been made public; his doctors generally agree that it is unlikely that he will regain consciousness. This would not have been a problem had Her Highness not miscarried, as an heir to the throne would have been assured - in-vitro fertilization was used to assure that her child would be male. Normally, even the miscarriage would not be a problem, as we could repeat the procedure to produce an heir. However, Her Highness was indeed rushed into surgery on 118; internal injuries sustained in the accident made it necessary to perform a hysterectomy upon her. Thus, we have no way of producing another heir descended from His Highness.

"However, a re-reading of the Charter, and a consultation with the Ambassador from Seetay-Lumyere, has given us an interpretation of the Charter that we can use to preserve the independence of Carlsmont. Discretion in this is necessary solely because of the need to avoid panic; while most Carlsmontites would have no objection to Carlsmont becoming part of the Kingdom of Seetay-Lumyere, there is a small nationalist movement that would resort to terrorism to prevent it, if possible. The Ambassador from Seetay-Lumyere has agreed to assist us in maintaining our independence, and has messaged his King accordingly. The local defense forces were put on a low-level alert against the possibility of terrorism were we to be forced to announce the full state of affairs with no heir to step in.

"The information you have been given in this packet will hopefully be enough for you to find the Grand Prince's exiled brother, Ramduur, and secretly bring him back here to take over as Grand Prince. His Highness would have brought Ramduur back after his mother's death last year, but the Privy Secretary, who had served His Highness's parents until His Late Highness's death, and supported Ramduur's banishment, advised against it. The Secretary is fully aware of the current situation, and agrees that Ramduur must be brought back, although he has expressed distaste for the man.

"You are not the only ones attempting to find Ramduur. We have agents on most planets in the area; orders have already gone out. Wear these collar pins at all times; they will identify you to the other agents, who will be wearing similar pins. They will help you to the best of their ability; you must help them to the best of yours. Nobody who is not wearing one of these pins must know of your mission; not even Ramduur, when and if you find him.

"Obviously, speed is of the essence; while we don't know how long we can keep the subterfuge up, there will be a point beyond which people will be suspicious, and from there, things will degrade. If you can manage to find Ramduur, we can present him right up to the moment that Seetay-Lumyere accepts that we cannot produce an heir; after that, it won't matter.

"The packet actually contains information on several cadet branches of the Artekata family; if Ramduur turns out to be dead without male issue, any of the individuals listed as eligible may be brought back instead. The individuals are marked in order of preference, but if you find one who's not at the top of the list, don't waste time - bring him in. I'd say to do that even if you're not sure about Ramduur, but there are political nuances that I'm not prepared to go into right now. Go for Ramduur, and grab one of the others only if Ramduur is an impossibility.

"I can guarantee you a payment of Cr100,000 from the Ministry of State's discretionary budget if any heir is presented, whether you're the one that brought him back or not. If no heir is brought back, there won't be a Carlsmont to pay you. Further payment would necessarily be at the Grand Prince's discretion.

"I wish I could do more for you on this, but I'm definitely bending - hell, breaking outright - the rules as it is - and quite frankly, the only reason I'm sure I won't be shot for treason for telling you the situation is because only His Highness can pronounce the death sentence. The agents off-world won't question you, with the pins, though, so once you're out of here we're both safe. Good luck!"


Notes to the Referee

This is obviously suitable as a background for other adventures, and it can develop in any direction that the referee wants. Further developments in the news are at the referee's discretion; remember jump lag in dating them if they go off-world at all.

Ramduur was exiled by the current Grand Prince's father because of a sex scandal. It will be trivial for the PCs to learn this. By now, most Carlsmontites have forgotten the scandal, or would brush it off as a minor indiscretion, so if Ramduur can be found, he will readily be accepted as the new Grand Prince, if the populace of Carlsmont know that the Grand Prince is unlikely to recover, or as Regent if they don't. Seetay-Lumyere will accept him, as well. Other heirs will not gain such easy acceptance; Seetay-Lumyere will insist on verifying the lineage, and the populace won't trust the heir or the Government. If this comes to pass, there will be an upsurge in nationalist feeling, and growing unrest that can only be assuaged after the people have seen that the new Grand Prince is fair and friendly, like the old, and in control of the Government, not under the Government's thumb.

While he has not been prominent, Ramduur has made no effort to hide his identity, and it should be easy to pick up his 'trail'. However, he joined the Imperial Navy about seven years ago, and at last report was a Lieutenant in a squadron that has seen action and taken casualties recently. It is up to the referee's discretion whether Ramduur - who is/was serving under his own name - is dead, alive, or somewhere in between. Several of the other individuals are quite suitable as heirs, being business, government, or military leaders; others may be adequate, being followers rather than leaders; a number of them are absolutely unsuitable (but may be the only ones available), being 'dropouts' of one type or another (convicted criminals, substance abusers, etc.) or incapable of even understanding the situation (mentally retarded or victims of brain damage/injuries, etc.). Physical handicaps are no problem (and several of the cadet candidates have them), provided that either (a) they already have male issue to be their heir, or (b) they are capable of siring children so that they can have an heir after ascending the throne.

At the referee's discretion, an added twist can be that Ramduur is Isharii's twin brother, which opens up the possibility that Carlsmont can use him to make the Grand Prince have a "miraculous recovery". If Ramduur is a twin, the players will not be told this, although if any of the PCs knows what the Grand Prince looks like (referee's discretion), it will be evident from the (old) photograph that there is a strong family resemblance. In order for this to work, Seetay-Lumyere must be kept from knowing that Ramduur has been found. In that event, it is entirely possible that the Government of Carlsmont will feel it necessary to take actions to ensure that the PCs do not blow the plot.

In generating further events on Carlsmont, remember that crises like this seem to have a flurry of activity at the beginning, when the situation is first developing, then they settle down to a stable state, where everyone is waiting for a change, and then either they degrade slowly when it is apparent that things aren't going to change, but those in charge aren't willing to acknowledge it, or they rapidly come to a head, when something serious happens, possibly (though not necessarily) making it clear that the truth had not been told earlier. The Carlsmont government will try to keep the lid on as long as possible, but the longer they do so, the more complex the lies have to get, and the more pressure from Seetay-Lumyere will be brought to bear.

Jeff Zeitlin
jzeitlin@cyburban.com

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#472

Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 13:31:13 -0700 From: Bruce Johnson
Subject: Re: Campaign Hook: Saving the Throne

Jeff Zeitlin wrote:
> I encountered an interesting factoid (veracity undetermined)
> while reading the soc.history.what-if newsgroup.

Snip of excellent adventure idea.

The one fly in the ointment here is the known Imperial practice of freezing ova and sperm for later need, particularly for higher ranking nobles.

Thus it would be a relatively simple matter to produce an heir, using a surrogate to bring the heir to term.

More to the point, since it is the Prince's line that needs continuation, and presumably extracting the sperm is a viable procedure, the Princess need not enter into the picture at all, only a surrogate mother.

Now these plot complications can be dealt with by simply invoking a clause in the agreement that the legal heir must be the natural offspring of the prince and his lawfully constituted spouse.

  1. Her frozen ova could have gone missing. An enterprising young tech at the Royal cryogenics facility could have heard about this and immediately realized the value of that little canister currently residing in liguid nitrogen. She has stolen it and is planning on extorting the Royal Family.
    Two game possibilites here:
    • The royal family has contacted the PC's to find her discreetly and recover the ova, either by force or negotiation.
    • She contacts the PC's to act as go-betweens...

  2. As above, but agents of Seetay-Lumyere have stolen the frozen ova.
    The PC's are sent to find them and recover the ova, or failing that, expose them for their crime.

  3. As above, but the tech is secretly a member of that small nationalist movement. They know full well the details of the original agreement, and are forcing the dynastic and independence crisis to move the populace to their side.
    The PC's are recruited to infiltrate the group, and recover the ova.
    As the saying goes...
         ...much hilarity ensues...;->

Bruce Johnson
University of Arizona
College of Pharmacy
Information Technology Group

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#478

Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 21:01:24 GMT
From: Jeff Zeitlin
Subject: Re: Campaign Hook: Saving the Throne

On Mon, 19 Apr 1999 18:14:27 -0400, Bruce Johnson wrote:
>Jeff Zeitlin wrote:
>> I encountered an interesting factoid (veracity undetermined)
>> while reading the soc.history.what-if newsgroup.
[snip]
>The one fly in the ointment here is the known Imperial practice of
>freezing ova and sperm for later need, particularly for higher ranking
>nobles.

Imperial practice. Grand Prince Isharii isn't necessarily an Imperial noble; he's merely the head of state and head of government of a member world. Cryogametopreservation doesn't necessarily happen. Eleven thousand worlds, each with (probably) at least one baron, separate from the local power structure. Plus Marquises, Counts, and Dukes. And would the President of the Republic of Saint Martin be cryogametopreserved? He doesn't have a noble title from Saint Martin, nor from the Imperium, but he is the equal of Grand Prince Isharii, whose title as Prince Royal of Carlsmont derives from the local culture.

If you assume that it does, however, you've given some interesting possible twists.

The same background could also quite possibly be used, if Ramduur is a twin, for a "Prisoner of Zenda"-type complication - or a "Prince and the Pauper" scenario. Lots of room here for referees to play. That's why I called it a "hook" instead of an adventure.

Jeff Zeitlin
jzeitlin@cyburban.com


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