Too Many McGuffins

An Ashen Stars scenario premise

Before the Mohilar War, many of the Bleed’s planets were settled by proponents of the Synthculture movement. They created worlds to replicate past periods of human and alien history, often filtered through a pop culture lens. The self-described film noir world of Lost Angeles (spelling intentional) functioned surprisingly well until the war came. But in the ensuing privations a new generation of people born and raised on Lost Angeles grew tired of the cultural limitations placed on them by their parents and grandparents. The old regime drifted into authoritarianism and fell to a coup. Now a new civil war rages, between upstart democrats and old-guard former rebels turned oligarchs. Neither faction cares much about the planet’s original hard-boiled style. Which is why one of its aging enthusiasts, now safely off-world, has engaged the PCs to recover one of its key heritage artifacts. A replica of the Maltese Falcon prop from the 1941 film of that name formed the centerpiece of the office belonging to the planet’s first ruler, Mayor Teddy Huston. It appeared in countless newsreel projections in which he delivered epigrammatic truths to his grateful people. Miles Bond, a noir enthusiast of the tavak species, issues the contract. He wants the lasers to wade through the active war zone that is the Lost Angeles capitol and recover that falcon. But it has to be the particular, slightly over-sized one Huston commissioned. Bond doesn’t intend to keep the precious artifact in his own collection. It should be in a museum, he declares, perhaps the Institute of Synthculture Development on Rosehaugh II.

Though neither warring faction seeks to enforce Chandler-era style any more, the statuette remains a vestigial symbol of prestige and authority. The rebels say they have it, and the government claim they do. Leader of the democracy movement, Lai Damron, says it will be destroyed when they take office, marking a symbolic end to calcified tradition. Or is that propaganda spread by current president Narcia Ugan, who wants to turn the Combine against Damron by painting him as eager to destroy a galactic heritage relic? Can the lasers find the thing that dreams are made of? When they do, how to they prove that they have the authentic replica?


Ashen Stars is a gritty space opera game where freelance troubleshooters solve mysteries, fix thorny problems, and explore strange corners of space — all on a contract basis. The game includes streamlined rules for space combat, 14 different types of ship, a rogues’ gallery of NPC threats and hostile species, and a short adventure to get you started. Purchase Ashen Stars in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

One Response to “Too Many McGuffins”

  1. I. J. Betty says:

    I love this idea so much. I presume that the Lasers will eventually come across someone who is smuggling gold (or some other precious mineral) off planet, enameled and disguised as falcon replicas, rather than the priceless original, made of lead.

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