Little Green Men from Outer Space…
So the PCs are behind the lines/back at home, and one fine day they find the roads blocked by Polite People/Little Green Men. They are friendly enough soldiers, who look and speak ‘local’ who take a quick look at your ID and wave you through… but they don’t have any military insignia, and you have no idea who they answer to.
That’s the starting point. I don’t have any idea where it goes, but there are a lot of interesting avenues and paths it can follow. It also depends on who your PC is – trader, military, scout – and how quickly they can find out what’s going on. “Military exercise? Film crew? Covert invasion?”
Of course, this is based on the Little Green Men incident during the invasion of Crimea. Quoting from the webpage:
Anton Shekhovtsov suggests three conditions are necessary for Russian nonlinear/hybrid operations. The first condition is that hybrid forces can only be deployed in Russian-speaking regions, where they are ethnically and culturally transparent, and cannot be easily detected. The second is that hybrid forces must arrive covertly, a condition that favors Russia’s near abroad (though successful deployments are possible elsewhere). The third condition is that covert deployment presumes border controls are poor and state power is weak in the target country.How, Why, and When Russia will Deploy Little Green Men — and why the US Cannot by John R. Haines
This doesn’t really apply to the Solomani/Imperial border, as that’s definitely among the most closely watched and secured borders in all of Charted Space. Meeting two of the three conditions isn’t good enough, not when the price for getting it wrong will get really, really high.
(Something else might be arranged, though, to keep the Imperial PCs hopping.)
But if you carefully check Alpha Crucis, you will find quite a number of worlds behind Solomani lines that aren’t actually ruled by the Solomani Confederation.
(I’m pretty sure that’s because of the unusual ceasefire agreement between the local commanders to wrap up the Solomani Rim War. My suggestion: everyone else hammered out an agreement, but the Alpha Crucis commanders kept whacking each other until the
Emperor Archduke & Secretary General mutually declared STOP IT, RIGHT NOW.
The worlds that were still being contested were declared ‘non-aligned’ and both sides pulled out. Ergo, all these independent systems, deep in Solomani space.)
Anyways, these Solomani worlds, deep in Solomani Space, but not actually under the rule of the Confederation, are prime locations for Little Green Men to just mysteriously show up, get what they want, and mysteriously disappear.
Now, the Little Green Men in Crimea were a prelude to formal Russian annexation… but the Confederation can’t risk that, without setting off something nasty.
But they can get the locals to see things ‘The Party Way”, with the selective use of Surprisingly Polite Little Green Men from Outer Space.
“They look like us now.”
PC Activity Detected
Imperial agents working in those officially, nominally independent worlds are sponsored by interests who want to make that independence less nominal, and more real.
Fortunately, there are a decent selection of tools available.
- The Confederation has to limit the use of force and to legally recognize the independence of these systems, to avoid triggering the Imperium.
- These are covert operations, and such operations have restricted availability of heavy equipment. The PCs, if working officially for the local government, operate under no such restrictions. “Getting those lightly armed Little Green Men to land in the middle of an Armoured Grav Tank formation would be ideal.”
- The Solomani are an ornery bunch: a significant percentage dislike the Party (…even as they love the own Race…), and nobody likes to be pushed around and bullied by bigger neighbours. If the Confederation gets into bad optics, local resistance to Party goals will stiffen, leading to Little Green Men to be either neutered and frozen in place until an embarrassing pull-out can be arranged, or flat out defeated in battle.
- The Confederation is behind the Imperium technologically. As of 1105 Imperial, its:
Solomani TL 14 (early TL 15, if pushing things) vs.
Imperial TL 15 (early TL 16 on select worlds).
This is not as significant as you’d think in small-scale covert, spy vs spy operations: the Solomani can either purchase small amounts of TL 15 gear, or even have their own skunk works develop it. But Little Green Men operations push the logistical limits hard, especially for the heavy stuff: TL 15 Solomani battledress is in very high demand, and usually impossible to get no matter how high your military rank, or how good your Party connections are.
Imperials definitely have it easier here. But don’t forget: to use your high-tech heavy gear on an independent world in Solomani Space, you have to enter Solomani Space: and the Confederation Navy would LOVE to get their hot hands on your very desirable high-tech hardware.
Just consider: what would you do if friendly armed soldiers, men who are definitely from your country but have no visible insignia, started directing traffic, rolling heavy trucks about, chatted up with the locals, etc?
For most civilians, it’s time to smile and nod and obey. Especially if the soldiers are polite, respectful, and largely undemanding: no mass roundups, no stealing, no shooting, no explosions.
For people who actually took an oath to the national government, and civilians who are patriotic enough to put their lives on the line, it’s time to make some decisions.
Among them: deciding just how much time you have, until things suddenly clear up and you are officially annexed/the training exercise is over/a new government is declared/the TV filming crew packs up and leaves.
(Yes, yes: in real life, local authorities would be notified if the business was just a film crew or a training exercise. But in Traveller, the Referee can shift things about a little, and see how the PCs would react to the unexpected!)