CANON PROBLEM 3: The Kinunir Question

Last Updated 22 November 1999.

The Problem

How do we reconcile the differences in canon over the Kinunir? The problem is one of irreconcilable dates.


REF 3.1 - Disappearance Date
Adventure 1: The Kinunir states that the ship was lost in 1097 (from memory).
Keven: It was lost in 1088. As of 001-1105, it hadn't been found, according to Adv 1.
REF 3.2 - Discovery Date
The Regency Sourcebook and now Behind The Claw (the latter presumably quoting the former) state that the ship was discovered at Shionthy in 1105. The other ships of the class were then "fixed" (they talked to the AI computers with a very large hammer ;-).
REF 3.3 - Warrant's Appearance Date
The RSB and BTC also say that Norris obtained his Warrant from the ship, and this appears to have occurred sometime in 1108.
REF 3.4 - Norris' Request Date
"Before the Iridium Throne" (Digest 9) says that Norris made his plea to Strephon at the same time that the four "Grand Tourers" were at Capital - that is, around 1104-5 (again from memory).
Hyphen: The Digest 9 adventure begins on 066-1104.
REF 3.5 - Repeat Performance?
In Survival Margin, while forging his Archducal patent, Norris mentions that he had "done this before" with his 5FW Warrant.
REF 3.6 - Did Norris meet Strephon?
In "Before the Iridium Throne" (Digest 9), Norris made his plea to Strephon via pseudo-reality hologram. No, they have never met. In the OTU (ie. MT/TNE) they never ever meet. Will they meet each other in G:T? Only time (and Loren) will tell...
REF 3.7 - Blank Warrants
Imperial Warrants do not specify who they are for, except in the case of "limited power" warrants issued for a specific purpose. They just say "Assist the bearer with all the power you can bring to bear". See my Library Data site for an example of such a Warrant.
REF 3.8 - Retrieving Warrant from Red Zone?
Hans: Somewhere (I think it is in 5FW, but it could also be SMC) we're told that the Norris' warrant was on a courier ship that was forced to land on Algine. No details about what caused it to do so. Norris' dilemma was that Algine was Interdicted and Santanocheev had specifically reinforced the orders forbidding anyone from violating interdicts (pleny of scope for conspiracy theories there, but no other hard facts). If the courier contained his warrant, Norris could justify violating the interdict, because he would then have the authority to overrule S. If it wasn't in the courier, Norris would be in a LOT of trouble if he did. In the end he did go down on Algine, retrieved the warrant, and went back and took over from S.
Hans: Spinward Marches Campaign p. 11 says: "Norris appealed directly to the Emperor of the Imperial forces in the Marches [...] Although the Emperor responded by issuing a warrant which put Norris in command, it was lost en route; due to the distances and transit times involved, the very existence of the document remained unknown." And on p. 16 it further says: "Norris, with some slight evidence that his warrant from the Emperor was on Algine (aboard a wrecked cruiser down on the planet), led a secret expedition to that interdicted world to recover the document. The quandary that faced Norris was that he was prohibited from going to the interdicted world of Algine without the express permission of the Emperor. The warrant, if it was there, would be permission to go there; if it wasn't there, he risked his career."

Discussion Points

POINT 3.1 - Check All Dates!
I will re-check the dates tonight, so if I have mis-remembered please just pat me on the head and tell me so.
Hyphen: this has now been done.
POINT 3.2 - Dates Cannot be Reconciled?
If the Kinunir was lost before 1100, and Norris didn't even ask Strephon for a Warrant until 1105, there is NO WAY that the Kinunir could have been the ship that was delivering the Warrant.
PROBLEM POINT 3.2.1 - Blank or Not?
Dave G: IIRC from Adv 1, the warrant wasn't written specifically for Norris, so he just got hold of it and used it ...
Steven H: Wasn't the Warrant on Kinunir blank - literally carte blanche to an Imperial official willing to face the eventual heat?
Hyphen: Added Ref 3.7 to cover these comments.
POINT 3.3 - A Matter of Interpretation?
The SM quote could be interpreted differently; that is, Norris meant that he received the Warrant and then acted.
POINT 3.4 - Travel Times
Re: REF 3.1 (as amended). This makes it even more difficult for the Kinunir story. Norris had to anticipate the 5FW (probably in 1103!), send a ship to Capital and have it arrive in 1105, then have the Warrant returned by ship so that he could use it in 1107-8. The Warrant in Adv 1 could NOT have been his! It must have dated from 1088 or thereabouts.
Keven: The Rebellion started in 1116. I don't remember the dates of the 5FW off the top of my head, but methinks it's possible for the Kinunir to get to Depot and back at least.
Keven: I was under the impression that Norris and Strephon never met in person.
Hyphen: Added Ref 3.6 to cover this.
Keven: This Warrant could be Norris' and not delivered 17 years late. The book doesn't specify who it's made out for. IIRC, I don't think Norris was even in power in 1088.
POINT 3.5 - Old Warrant?
Um, I don't understand this comment. Norris had the Warrant for the 5FW, not the Rebellion. And if the Kinunir was missing between 1088 and 1105, it couldn't have travelled anywhere - it was sitting in the Shionthy Belt all that time.
POINT 3.6 - Warrant Not For Norris
The Warrant in the Kinunir couldn't be for Norris. See point 3.5.
POINT 3.7 - Did Norris and Strephon meet?
Peter N: Norris became Duke in 1098 when his father died. Prior to this point he had a career in Naval Intelligence. I assume that Norris & Strephon met at this point when Norris had an assignment at Capital/Core but this is not a necessary assumption.
POINT 3.8 - Why Suppress The Location?
Hans: Why is Norris suppressing the fact that he has visited Algine?
Doug Berry: Good question. Perhaps the wreckage of the other cruiser is still there, and it could damage the Duke politically in some way? Or maybe the Warrant was carried on an Imperiallines TJ Jump-6 courier, and examining the wreckage would blow their cover. So Norris deftly deflects inquiries to another system.
Hans: A good idea. The text says a cruiser, but that explanation might be worth a small change. OTOH, the system is already interdicted, so Norris could easily control the composition of any expedition sent to examine the wreck.
POINT 3.9 - Routine Patrol? What Routine Patrol?
Doug Berry: They *told* us it was a routine patrol, but perhaps it was something more sinister. Perhaps the Kinunir's AI system had been enhanced, and the Captain carried the Warrant for priority service and the ability to shut people up during what would be a highly-classified shakedown cruise.
Steve Daniels: I like it. What if the AI system was designed to deal with the possiblity of the crew being taken over by Zhodani Mind Control? (An imagined threat is just as effective as a real one). And their real mission involved the potential for this. Perhaps a secret backchannel meeting?
Hyphen: I _like_ this suggestion!
Steve Daniels: I don't know. But all Imperial Warrants are not alike. They may be issued by Dukes, Archdukes and the Emperor. They may be of limited purpose or blanket authority. Possibly, the captain of the Kinunir was a backup. Perhaps trusted to take command of a region in the event of Zhodani surprise attack or assassination of prominent nobles.
Hyphen: Here's a nice idea that leads into an adventure: if you take this suggestion as true, the PCs might want to find out who exactly was the captain? Another Cleon III-type, acting as a fire brigade but with the Warrant available to wheel out in case it all "dropped in the pot"?

Possible Solutions

POSSIBLE SOLUTION 3.1 - "Forge The Warrant!"
The references to the "Kinunir" as the ship that had Norris' Warrant on it are false. This was done in order to cover up the truth, that he was unable to wait for word back from Strephon, and actually forged his Warrant. The real thing came later, allowing him to justify his actions, and then he had to create a cover story.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION 3.2 - "Different Ship, Different Red Zone"
Norris did go off and retrieve his Warrant, but from some other Red Zone. It was done in secret because Santanocheev had banned all contact with Red Zone worlds in the Marches.
PROBLEMS WITH 3.2 - Band-Aid Fix
This sounds like a bad band-aid fix.
FIX TO SOLUTION 3.2 - Delete the Contradictions
Hans: My suggestion is to go back to this version (SEE Ref 3.8 above). The warrant was never on the Kinunir, so the discrepancy goes away.
Hans: So you have two mutually exclusive versions of the story (the warrant can't both be on the Kinunir and the wrecked cruiser on Algine, right?) where one version contains serious problems (as you pointed out) and the other not only contains no contradictions but is also the original version. IMO I've seldom seen a clearer choice. YMMV.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION 3.3 - "The Footlocker Solution"
Solution 3.1 is correct, but Norris didn't forge the Warrant, he had found it a few years before when he discovered the Kinunir and hid it in his footlocker. ;-) I mean, kept it safe "just in case". Plausible, since BTC says he was tooling around with the fleets in the "Inthe Pocket", near Shionthy.
FIX TO SOLUTION 3.3 - Two Warrants
This is looking a likely solution. Add the idea that Norris expected a reply by 1107, didn't get one and so used the concealed Warrant, and then the real Warrant arrived later. I really will have to check Digest 9 for the dates!
     BTW, glad you realised I meant that Norris hid the WARRANT in his footlocker, not the ship itself (poor grammatical construction, there! ;-).
Peter N: I thought everyone knew that all important characters in Traveller have their own personal Ancient Artifact. Norris has a footlocker with a pocket dimension built into it (Sort of like a Bag of Holding in D&D) so when he found the Kinunir in the Shionthy Belt he did indeed put it in his footlocker. Where do you think all those Ancient Artifacts that PC's find in adventures go when the MIB's take them away from the PC's? Remember Rank Hath Its Privileges. :) [ducking rapidly]
Dom: HE PUT THE Kinunir IN HIS FOOTLOCKER? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Peter N: Well, I was just responding to a previous post in that spirit. [To continue:]
     "Yes he did and it is a good thing that the Kinunir did not have its Black Globe turned on at the time or the energy drain might have caused problems for the pocket dimension in the footlocker. In case you are wondering how the Kinunir fit into the mouth of the footlocker it is obvious that the Ancient footlocker can shrink things so they fit inside." :)
POSSIBLE SOLUTION 3.4 - "In The Shoes Of His Father"
Peter N: What if the signed Imperial Warrant in the Captains cabin of the Kinunir is addressed to "The Duke of Regina"?
     Imagine this scenario: The Fourth Frontier War ends in 1084. Strephon, at Capital, gets the news in 1085. He is not too impressed with the stalemate that ensued. He is not really sure what to do about this so he mulls it over for a year or two. In 1086 or 1087, after hearing good things about Norris's father, he decides to issue an Imperial Warrant to the then Duke (Norris's father) and sends it off on the Kinunir. The Kinunir travels from Capital/Core with the warrant. When the Kinunir is only a few parsecs from Regina it has some problems & gets stranded in the Shionthy Belt. Strephon never knows that Norris father did not get the warrant. Nobody else knows either, possibly Strephon gave it to the Kinunir's captain in person, or the courier who brought it to the Kinunir's captain is not in a position to check up on it.
     Then in 1104 or 1105 or so Strephon gets the message from Norris asking for more power in case of a crisis. Strephon responds "You can use the Imperial Warrant I sent your father in 1087, it says "The Duke of Regina" so you are entitled to use it." Norris gets this message in 1105 or 1106. He immediately says "What Imperial Warrant?" He then checks all his father's papers (which may take months to make sure it was not misplaced), confirms it never arrived and simultaneously has his staff start looking for it. [This is an excellent opportunity for the PC's to meet Norris's psionic attache Branj, for him to confirm psionically that they are honorable & to ask them to keep an eye out for the warrant. If you want your Traveller universe to be a bit more conspiratorial you can have Branj pull a Bester and have hidden psionic controls implanted in one or more of the PC's.]
     Either he finds it, is behind the PC's who find it in Adventure 1, the PC's find it on their own & give it to him (which I would like to think is their patriotic duty), or he learns about the PC's and gets it back. To keep canon consistent I would suggest that the PC's in Adventure 1 find it as suggested in the adventure at the same time that Norris has discovered it is in the belt. Norris's ship then jumps in & gets the ship from the PC's when they leave the wreck of the Kinunir (which is also a cool way for them to meet him). He then uses it, when needed, to sack Santanocheev. Note that the PC's will have commited a High Justice crime by going on board the Kinunir in the first place so Norris now has them where he wants them for any other future items he needs taken care of (Unless your PC's don't mind being taken out and shot....) Which may be useful in a campaign.
     Note that in this scenario Strephon has been a bit sloppy with an Imperial Warrant to not notice it was missing for 18 years. You can either assume that this 1) is necessary for the scenario 2) is about all the level of attention to detail that you can expect from any Emperor of Trillions 3) is an indication that Strephon has some problems (further indicated by MT's Rebellion) or 4) (my favorite) a bit of all of these.
PROBLEMS WITH 3.4 - Warrants Are Blank
Hyphen: Peter's solution (Norris retrieves his DAD'S Warrant at Shionthy) is better, except that (as about three people have pointed out, and I didn't include originally because I thought it was a known thing ;-) Warrants are not generally made out to specific individuals. Take this out and it looks better.
FIX TO SOLUTION 3.4 - ...But Are They Really?
Peter N: Do you really think that the Emperor is in the practice of handing out his Imperial Power to just anyone without some control over who this anyone is?
     It is true that the "canon" Imperial Warrant shown in the Library Data does not have a name on it. However this may be so that spys (who will not necessarily be using their own name) can use them. I think that almost all Imperial Warrants come in envelopes with the bearers name on them. I think the warrant Norris used was in an envelope (of Imperial Stationary) saying "The Duke of Regina" on it. It seems to me that if anyone, especially a Noble, uses the Emperors power when they do not have permission to do so that this is a flat out, no questions asked, case of Treason. This is the sort of thing that if you do it you end up dead somewhere, the only question is if they do it legally to make an example of you for others or if you just vanish.
     The notion that you can just use an Imperial Warrant you happen to find and not expect to be considered to be treasonasly usurping the Emperors power is dangerously naive. That is why I suggested that the Warrant was originally intended for his Father and said "The Duke of Regina" on it. I know that Norris's use of it was for the good of the Imperium but I just do not see it as a good idea for the Emperor to let people (especially Nobles who represent a greater threat of Civil War) use their power uncontrollably.
     If Norris had just picked up someone elses Imperial Warrant and used it I would expect that Strephon would have had him killed in a way that made it look like an accident. I would also expect that this is more or less what Norris would expect as well.
Hans: Personally I think it extremely unlikely that the Emperor would make out Imperial Warrants that weren't both personal (not just "The Duke of Regina" but "Norris Xxxxxx Xxxxxx Aledon, 13th (or whatever number Norris' dad had) Duke of Regina" and time-limited in some way (though the limit could be quite large given the transit times of the Imperium).
     BTW. just to add a reference: Travellers' Digest #18 says that Emperor Strephon delegated war power to Duke Norris of Regina during the FOURTH Frontier War, more than a decade before our Norris became duke. This can be explained by assuming that Norris' father was named Norris too. It fits with Peter's "Norris retrieved his father's warrant" story, but it also fits with the other story. It gives a reason why Norris might think that the Emperor would give war powers to a junior duke (IMO the dukedoms of Mora, Lunion, and Rhylanor are all senior to Regina); there was a precedent (So why did Norris' DAD get his war powers? Maybe he was a Grand Admiral in his own right?) Anyway, it makes for a nice bit of historical continuity.
Steven Bonneville: There's another Spinward Marches Campaign reference in the map section that claims that administration of Jewell subsector is done from Regina due to Jewell's proximity to the border. I agree that Mora and Rhylanor are senior to Regina, and Lunion and Glisten might be. But the Duke of Regina is the highest point of nobility adjacent to the Zhodani border, and is the reasonable leader on the spot who might need that much power and might be trusted to wield it.
     The Imperial Warrant does have a few limits -- remember, the emperor is watching, probably closely. The consequences of abusing a Warrant are potentially quite extreme.
Hans: I know that in The Kinunir we are told that an Imperial Warrant is an anonymous "get out of anything free" card made out to bearer. If you want to believe that, feel free. But I prefer to regard this particular piece of canon as on a par with the information that four Kinunirs are strong enough to cow the entire Regina subsector...
Keven: IIRC, not having the canonical info right in front of me at this moment, a Warrant basically says "You are ordered to help the bearer in any way you can because he is working for the best interests of the Imperium." The implication is that the bearer will have to give an accounting down the line someplace. If he does the job right, he's a hero. If he screws the pooch, he's less than zero. The Warrant puts the full responsibility and blame on the bearer. Ghods help him if he screws up.
Hans: You are 100% correct. That's how an Imperial Warrant is described in The Kinunir. The part I take issue with is the 'bearer' bit. There's no good reason for it, and the potential for disaster in case it fell into unauthorized hands is too great. No doubt every Imperial outfit will hunt down and inflict the death of a thousand cuts on anyone stupid enough to misuse a warrant, but that won't help clean up the mess, will it? And we know that there's no shortage of people who are incapable of realizing that they can ever be caught. Besides, if it is not possible to use a 'bearer' warrant without eventually getting caught, then the warrant in the Kinunir's safe is the evillest PC trap I've ever seen... >:->
     Why run such a risk when all the Emperor has to do is to put a name (and a gene-scan) on the Warrant?
Cynthia: Of course there is a reason for it; re-read the scene in "The Three Musketeers" where the Countess de Winter gets Cardinal Richelieu to issue her the original inspiration for the Imperial Warrant. The reason: plausible deniability. De Winter wanted the warrant to CYA herself against Richelieu later having her hanged for the assassination he was commissioning, and Richelieu didn't want to explicitly spell out that he was commissioning an assassination on paper. Using "the bearer" allows him to shaft de Winter later, anyway, by claiming that the warrant obviously fell in the wrong hands. (If he'd wanted to--it never got that far) It also provided the plot device for D'Artagnan to get away with his actions when he got his hands on the warrant.
     To sum up: two reasons for "bearer-warrants": plausible deniability, and plot device. One in-game, one game mechanic (and it was a cool bit in "The Three Musketeers"...).
Leonard: And to (more or less) quote Richelieu. "One must be careful what one writes... and who one gives it to."
Hans: Yes, I realize the source of the original, but the analogy is a false one. The 'warrant' that Richelieu gave Mylady was not the 17th Century counterpart of an Imperial warrant. It didn't empower Mylady to go down to Le Havre and commandeer a squadron of ships and sail off to seize a Spanish treasure fleet or some such. Athos himself said it best: "That is absolution as good as any". It was a pardon, a "get out of jail free" card. An Imperial Warrant is so much more than that.
     If you want to give your players a "Three Musketeer" type plot device, you can do it, and you don't need an Imperial Warrant to do so. "In case of any legal entanglements, please refer the bearer of this to the Office of the Duke of Glisten" Signed (Name unreadable).
     It sure was ["a cool bit in "The Three Musketeers"]. In a Paranoia campaign I once gave one of the players a note with the words: "It is with my knowledge and for the good of Alpha Complex that the bearer of this has done what he has done. The Computer". The poor sap was so pleased. At first...


David "Hyphen Jaques-Watson,
Keven R. Pittsinger,
Hans Rancke-Madsen,
Doug Berry,
David J. Golden,
Steven H,
Peter Newman,
S. "Dom" Dominic Mooney,
Steven Bonneville,
Chris Seamans,
Cynthia Higginbotham, and
Leonard Erickson.


Important: The Kinunir Warrant!
Chris Seamans: "The final resting place of the Imperial Warrant that was on the Kinunir has been hotly debated for many years.

Some say Norris used it to keep the peace and stability of the Spinward Marches. Others swear that they were part of the adventuring party that found it and they used it mainly to circumvent local authorities when they got into fusion-powered bar brawls.

The truth is much, much more frightening. A deep cover IISS Scout was recently found, a victim of "spacing," in the [CLASSIFIED] Subsector. A small holocube was found in his stomach. A replica of the Warrant is shown below. Please pass this on to other loyal and patriotic Imperial citizens and let them know what a threat to Imperial security this is."

The Hidden Warrant- copyright Chris Seamans © 1999

Return to Top of Page