abcThe Contract

The Lasers are to investigate a murder committed on an isolated space lab in the Janus system. It should be an easy case since the crew compliment was two, Dr Amelia Dubble and Dr Abraham Baccus. Whoever is still alive must surely be the killer.

The Twist

Upon arrival they find that Dr Dubble has been murdered but the situation is more complicated that they thought. The space lab was carrying out experiments into cloning, using Dr Baccus as a test subject. They are greeted by three versions of Dr Baccus, each claiming to be the original and accusing one of the clones as being the one responsible for killing Dr Dubble.


The Boundless Enterprise corporation established the isolated Janus space lab to investigate new techniques for cloning. Their goal was to not only physically clone a person but replicate their memories, creating a perfect duplicate in both body and mind.

Dr Dubble was chosen for her expertise in psychology, memory manipulation and transfer. Dr Baccus was a certifiable genius, an expert in genetics, computer design and engineering. He often joked that the greatest crime in the universe was that there was only one of him.

Selected both due to their skills and the compatibility of their personalities the two scientists began work 2 years ago. Boundless received only occasional updates but the data they provided was both ground breaking and showed great promise for the project.

What they didn’t know is that Dr Baccus became increasingly frustrated with their slow pace. Requesting additional staff wouldn’t be enough, they needed someone of his own genius. When their research hit a dead end, one that could only only progress with human testing he volunteered.

In all two clones were to be created, implanted with memories taken from Dr Baccus. Worried that knowing they weren’t the original would damage a clones psyche the cloning procedure culminated in the three Dr Baccus’ awakening together. The memory of the hour before the cloning process began up to the current moment having been removed by Dr Dubble.

The three men were assigned a letter to act as their middle initial in order to differentiate them. They were Dr AA Baccus, Dr AB Baccus and Dr AC Baccus. Only Dr Dubble knew who was the original and she claimed that she had assigned them their letters at random. They began to just use their letters to address each other.

For 9 months the lab was more productive than ever. A concentrated on the genetics, B worked with Dr Dubble to improve their memory storage and implantation software (which also upgrading the labs computer systems) and C refined the cloning gestation systems.

Dr Dubble monitored her co-workers and conducted many psychological evaluations with them. She found that although the same person the letter allocated to them had influenced their personalities.

A thought he was the original, the first of the three. He was content to continue his genetic experiments, taking samples from all three men and examining them for any genetic drift. In conversation with Dr Dubble he would always refer to the others as ‘the clones’ or ‘passable forgeries’.

B thought he was the original because it would be too obvious for it to be A. He kept this to himself because he didn’t want to upset the others and saw himself as a balancing force between the two. Working closely with Dr Dubble he felt they had a special bond and that she’d chosen him. Dr Dubble had to remind him several times that they had a strictly professional relationship.

C was convinced he was the clone. He became the outsider of the group, jealous of A’s belief that he was the original and B’s relationship with Dr Dubble. He would push himself harder to prove he was equal, if not better than the original.

Things came to a head in the last month. C wanted a Dr Dubble of his own, someone who would share his own existential despair at being a clone. Finding an old memory imprint of Amelia (taken when they first arrived to test the equipment) he obtained a genetic sample and grew a clone.

Dr AD Dubble (C assigned her the D as a nod to her being a continuation of the experiments) awoke confused, believing that she had only recently arrived. She stumbled away and found her donor, the original Amelia. Both women were stunned but D recovered first and killed Amelia.

C, chasing his creation, arrived too late. Horrified C was about to alert the others but D grabbed a monitor from a shelf and knocked him out. She deleted his memories of her creation, placed him in his quarters and went into hiding.

All three versions of Dr Baccus found the body of Amelia Dubble at roughly the same time and each blamed each other. They sent a communication to Boundless, although their transmission was so disrupted key points of information were missing.

The Investigation

Upon Arrival the PCs get a chance to Meet A, B and C who all try to implicate each other. They can then search The Genetics Lab, The Memory Bank, The Clone Ward and Dubble’s Quarters. They may also want examine the body of Dr Dubble in the Medical Bay. During this they experience Sabotage. If they dismiss a suspect they’ll find The Option Removed as D kills them to implicate the remaining clones.

Ultimately they should uncover Option D. They may also find The Real Dr Baccus and have to decide if they should be told.

Personal Arcs

This investigation centres on cloning. How do the PCs feel about this issue? Would they allow themselves to be cloned? Would they still be them? Is there anyone who has died that they would like to bring back to life through cloning? Do clones have rights? Are they real people?


The Lasers contract only tells them that the Boundless Enterprise corporation wants them to investigate a murder at one of their facilities. They are not told the nature of the research as the work their is confidential. They are given data files on both scientists and told that the transmission was text only so they don’t know who was murdered and who sent the message.

Approaching the space lab the Lasers can see that the facility is made of a cluster of pods, so that sections can be jettisoned should an experiment get out of control. From a distance they can see the labs clustered together on the leftside, a transparent domed botanical section (where cloned plants are grown), living quarters on the top section and shielded cargo section at the base (D is hiding in here as the shielding, intended to protect food and delicate replacement parts from space radiation and meson emissions, would hide her from any scans). All cling to a central axis which acts as a docking port.

The space lab doesn’t respond to hails, although it will activate the landing beacon, indicating someone is on board.

A Bio Signature check reveals that there are three life forms on board. This should be a puzzle, since only two people were supposed to staff the lab to begin with. A 1 point spend indicates that all three have very similar readings.

Once docked they are met by Dr AB Baccus, who is very anxious to be out of the company of his obviously insane clone doubles. Short, bald and with several days worth of stubble he talks quickly, rambling about the tragedy of poor Dr Dubble’s death and that obviously ‘one of them’ is responsible’.

When they push him to clarify who ‘them’ are Dr AA Baccus arrives, just as stressed but clean shaven, asking if help has arrived. When he sees that the PCs are there he tells them that he is the true Dr Baccus and they should ignore his clone.

The two men begin arguing when Dr AC Baccus arrives, a bandage on his head. He says that he is the original and that one of the others not only killed Dr Dubble but attacked him. All three scientists then begin arguing with each other and making accusations until the PCs separate them.


Individually the three men are able to focus and provide help to the PCs. They are willing to show them around the labs and explain the nature of their work. All three give their own version of events but the basic information is the same.

B arrived at the Memory lab to continue their research for that day cycle. He was 10 minutes late and found Dr Dubble on the floor, dead. He raised the alarm and thought he heard someone running from the scene but stayed with the body.

A and C arrived and immediately thought that B had done something. B noticed that C was bleeding from a head injury and accused him of attacking Dubble, gaining the injury during the assault. C had no memory of the last few hours and accused one of the others of knocking him out.

Their own investigation turned up little of use. They found that Dubble had been killed by a neural probe. The tool was used to slow or neutralise sections of the brain to allow memory collection and manipulation on clones but on the highest setting shuts down vital functions. Only Dubble’s and Baccus’s DNA was found on the probe. All clones point out that there is no way to say which one of them used it as a murder weapon.

With little option they sent the distress call and isolated themselves.

When interviewing the three versions of Baccus remember that while they are basically the same person 9 months in very different roles and situations has caused some drift in their personality. As such only certain interpersonal skills elicit useful responses.

A responds well to flattery and negotiation.

A confides in the PCs that he is the original and that he was working in his genetics lab at the time of the murder. He muses on what could have been and if only he’d had the courage to tell Dubble how he truly felt about her. Of course he never would, unlike his degenerate copies.

He explains that B believed that there was romantic relationship between himself and Dubble, something he bragged about when they were alone. C knew this as well and was insanely jealous. A believes that this was a crime of passion, with either B or C having both the motive and the opportunity to commit the murder.

A 1 point spend convinces A to confide in the PCs that he implanted a small ID chip into his left arm bone so he could check after the experiment to see if he was the original. He admits that this would have broken the rules they’d set for the experiment and hadn’t told Dubble.

He checked with the scanning equipment but couldn’t find any indication of the chip. He believes that either the chip has ceased functioning or Dubble realised what he had done and removed it. If they press him he will begin to doubt that he is the original Baccus.

B responds well to flirtation and respect.

B assures them that he would never have harmed Dubble because they cared for each other. He explains that her feelings for him were real because he is the original Baccus (“B for Baccus. Isn’t it obvious?”). Bullshit detector reveals that he is lying about his relationship, something he will admit to if pushed.

B wants justice for his lost love and finds only small comfort in that she would have died painlessly. Her brain was instantly switched off, her consciousness vanishing in an instant.

A 1 point spend allows B to remember that a week before the murder he found C in the lab, going through the Memory Bank data files. He said he was just checking the system but B believes he may have downloaded some information. In fact this was when B found and extracted a copy of Dubble’s memories.

C responds to inspiration and intimidation.

C now believes that he is the original. He explains that for a long time he thought he was the clone (“C for clone. I thought it was obvious.”) but he believes he was attacked because one of the others (most likely B) forced Dubble to tell them who the real one was. When they found out it was C they killed Dubble and attacked him.

If questioned about the attack he admits that the last thing he remembers was being in the Clone Ward before he blacked out. When awoke his head hurt and there was an alarm going off. It was only when he got to the Memory Bank his injury was pointed out to him. He will remove the bandages to show slowly healing wound.

A 1 point spend convinces C to tell them that he was jealous of B’s relationship with Dubble. He had come up with a plan to clone a copy of her but hadn’t managed to do so before the murder occurred.

A 2 point spend allows C to recall that he was in the middle of testing one of the clone chambers when he suddenly awoke in his quarters. He doesn’t actually remember being attacked. This might suggest that his memory was deleted.

The Lasers will not be able to identify who the killer is just from speaking with the three versions of Dr Baccus. They will need to do some legwork.


This is where A spends most of his time. There are genetic samples taken of A,B and C going back 9 months. Much of A’s work is examining the DNA from the samples and making sure there is no degradation. So far there is absolutely no variation, nothing to indicate who is the original and who is the clone.

There are also samples taken from the plant life in the botanical dome. While the cargo section has supplies for the duration of their mission they’d still fall short since the company believed that there were only two people on board. By growing their own organic food they could ensure there was enough food for all four of them, cloning new plants if their crops ran low.

If they are ask they can learn that genetic samples of Dubble were also kept here. This was just part of medical checks and to use to contrast with the DNA of A,B and C. They can find that one sample is missing but the automated system only shows that it was removed by Dr Baccus, not which one.


The murder scene, which has been left untouched since the discovery of the body (save for the removal of Dr Dubble to the morgue). There are rows of computers and monitoring systems surrounding the main feature of the room, the Memory Interface.

This is a large piece of equipment, resembling a MRI scan. A subject lies on a bed which slides into the circular device. Their brain is scanned, picking up brain way activity as memory triggers are projected in front of their eyes to trigger a reaction.

The highly advanced computers can store entire memories simply by observing this brain activity. An operator can even unleash charges into the subjects brain, imprinting them with stored memories. A similar process can remove select memories.

Stored memories are recorded as brain activity scans and so don’t provide a visual or audio record that can be played back. Only an expert like Dubble or Baccus could interpret them and even then they are only guessing, rather than getting a literal impression of what the memory contains. It is easier to remove a period of time than it is a specific memory. If you know when a memory occurred you can delete it.

Evidence collection allows them to find C’s blood on the floor where he was struck, near where Dubble’s body was found. Of course DNA testing will only show that it came from Baccus, not which one. A 1 point spend finds the monitor that D used to him with, more blood found on its underside.

Kinetics can reveal where the attacker was standing when they hit C. The angle of the attack indicates the attacker was taller than A,B or C. If the player asks then you can confirm the attacker would be the same height as Dubble.

Data Retrieval reveals that the  Memory Interface in the room was used 5 minutes after the murder. A 1 point spend reveals the Memory Interface was activated using Dubble’s access codes, apparently after her death.

B worked here the most and will be happy to show them around and explain how they used it to make sure that all the clones have the same memories. He will answer any questions the Lasers have about the process and give guidance on how the technology can be used.

The PCs may think of recording and playing back the memories of A,B and C to establish who is telling the truth. Unfortunately the only way to know what the memory contains is to implant it. If they implant it into another clone they can’t trust what it tells them. The only way to be sure is to have the memory implanted themselves.

This is dangerous and B will warn that they could also gain the personality of the donor. If the memory is incriminating the subject might lie since from their perspective ‘they’ are guilty. If they are still willing to undergo the process B starts to make the arrangements.

During this process (which can take several hours depending on how many memories they record before implantation). Keep the tension high during this sequence, possibly running some sabotage incidents. Give them the impression that someone doesn’t want the process to go ahead.

Let one memory be implanted and convey to the subject how disorienting this is. They learn enough to clear the donor of the memory (allowing you to progress to The Option Removed).

Before another memory can be implanted the subject has a seizure, requiring them to be moved immediately to the medical bay for treatment. The PCs should work together to get their team mate there in time, which will leave the Memory Bank empty.

D uses this opportunity to sabotage the equipment. If the area is occupied or guarded she can do this remotely, using her access codes. The PCs will not be able to repeat this process leaving two suspects.

If the PCs think to try to access Dubble memories (maybe hoping to find out who killed her) B will say that they didn’t record her memories. C corrects him, pointing out that she did when they installed the Memory Interface to check that it was working. If they check the banks they find it is no longer there. A 1 point data retrieval spend reveals that it was Dubble herself who deleted it.


This was Dubble’s private sanctuary. The only place that she wasn’t surrounded by Baccus. While she was coping well with the unusual situation she sometimes felt suffocated by his presence and this was her safe haven, where she was free to just be herself.

To this end Dubble placed a security lock on the door, which A,B and C have not even attempted to open. As far as they are concerned it has been closed since her death.

Once inside the PCs will find that clothes, personal belongings and one of her suitcases are missing. D was able to get here and collected some things. She didn’t take everything as she was worried that someone would eventually enter and it would look strange if everything was missing.

Dubble’s Tether is here, not linked in with the rest of the space lab systems. This is where she kept her psych reports on A,B and C. From this they can ascertain how she felt about each version of Baccus and how they behaved towards her. Dubble was very careful not to indicate in her notes which was the original Baccus.

Data Retrieval reveals that Dubble herself was having doubts about the ethics of cloning. She realised that witnessing the self-doubt in A.B and C made her question how she would react if she was cloned. She considered telling Baccus that they had to end the project.

A 1 point spend indicates that Dubble’s concerns about being cloned led her to delete the memory record she’d taken when she set up the equipment a few days before her murder. She is concerned that the computer logs indicate that someone else accessed that information before her.

A 2 point reveals a confidential file where Dubble realised that she could help A,B and C if she just told them the truth but she didn’t know how they would react. She just hoped they never found the secret she is keeping in the cargo section. This also provides the security codes needed to open the freezer in the cargo section (see The Real Baccus).

If the PCs have a strong suspicion about one of the Baccus then D will try to find time to enter the room and add a note that supports their belief. The record will indicate that she believed that the suspect was becoming increasingly hostile and that she feared he would kill her if she doesn’t give him what he wants. Bullshit Detector indicates that the tone of the note is wrong, almost as if someone wanted them to come to the wrong conclusion.


It is in this chamber that the clones were created. Each clone chamber consists of a large transparent tube attached to a metal frame. Pipes feed in the chemicals needed to grow the clones and accelerate their development, while sensors monitored their vitals. Using genetic material as a template the system could grow an adult version of the donor within an hour.

Evidence collection reveals a device that is immediately recognisable as a miniature Memory Interface device to anyone who has been in the Memory Bank. C will try to say that he is working to incorporate both devices so that clones can be directly imprinted, rather than having to be taken to the Memory Bank.

A 1 point spend reveals a datachip with Dubble’s memories that C took from the Memory Bank.

C works here and can explain the process and answer any questions. Construction of the clone chambers is time consuming. At the moment the circuitry must be changed to suit the needs of the individual person being cloned but they hope that in the future an individual clone chamber could create a clone of anyone they have a genetic sample of.

There were three clone chambers originally. Two were used in the cloning experiment that created the Baccus copies, with one as a back up should one of the chambers fail. Currently there are only two as one was destroyed while C was unconscious following the attack. He spends much of his time rebuilding the chamber.

The forensic engineering and industrial design abilities allow someone to study the chambers and establish that the sabotaged unit had been modified. A 1 point spend reveals that it was adapted for female DNA. A 2 point spend confirms that it was specifically for Dubble.

In addition to these clone chambers there are smaller units for cloning plants for the botanical dome. C is not happy about this as it makes him feel that he is a farmer.

If the PCs suggest that they clone Dubble C says that he has thought of that but they would need genetic material. A has some in the Genetic Lab but since the murder he hasn’t allowed anyone in there. He suggests that if the PCs were able to persuade A to let them access to the material he could create a copy.

This could lead to the PCs discovering that a genetic sample from Dubble is already missing from the Genetic Lab. If they know that a memory imprint is needed to give a clone the donors personality the fact that C didn’t ask for this suggests he already has it.

If they’ve found the miniature Memory Interface and Memory Chip C will admit he was much further along in his plan and was planning to clone Dubble the day she was murdered. He doesn’t know why he didn’t.


This is where all the medical equipment is kept on the lab, to treat injuries and illness. If anything should happen to the PCs this is where they need to go to heal.

A cryogenic chamber is currently preserving the body of Dubble. Her corpse is in almost exactly the same state as it was upon her death. She is a tall, blond woman, still very attractive even in death. One could almost imagine that she was only sleeping.

Forensic anthropology allows confirmation that the cause of death was the brain activity being ceased using the neural probe. In theory her brain could be reactivated briefly either using Consciousness Simulation or using the Memory Interface in the Memory Bank (which acts as if the machine had Consciousness Simulation 7).

If they make a difficulty 6 medic check during this process they can stabilise her vitals, in affect bringing her back to life. She will be physically exhausted and will need to sleep after she answered their questions.


During the course of their investigation D is monitoring the PCs. She has access to the labs computer and security systems. This allows her to see what they are doing and listen in to their private conversations. It is important to remember that she can only watch one group of PCs at a time so if they split up she may miss some parts of their investigation.

Her ultimate plan is to steal or stowaway on their ship and to do that she is willing to kill the PCs or at least hamper them to give her time to bypass their security systems on their ship.

To this end she will shut down systems, making it appear as if it is due to lack of maintenance and meson emissions. Lights will flicker on and off, doors jam halfway open and elevators carrying people between sections will stall for a few minutes. A,B and C will all agree that this has been happening since the murder happened.

She will use blackouts or disable security cameras to access areas of the space lab, should she need to get supplies or plant incriminating evidence.

As the investigation continues D will raise the stakes. She’ll overload electrical systems and shut off fire suppression, allowing a fire to take hold. She’ll turn off life support in certain sections and open airlocks as people pass by. These situations allow the PCs to use their general abilities to avoid death and save others. Challenges should be crafted to reflect the abilities of the PCs, allowing them to be action heroes as well as investigators.

In the most extreme cases D will detach sections of the space lab. Each section is a pod and can be eject individually. She will do this when she wants to keep a vital clue out of their hands (for example if they are going to use the Memory Bank or examine the victims body in the Medical Bay she might just detach them).

The PCs should be able to use their ship to recover the pod, especially if someone is trapped in the pod. This should be a tense scene and require delicate piloting. If their vessel doesn’t have a large enough shuttle bay to encompass the pod they might need to perform a space walk to attach tow rope and drag it back to the space lab.

Not only does this further delay the PCs but allows D to monitor how they access the ship and use its systems. She can then use this information herself to get on board and either hide or escape, once they’ve returned.

The players may begin to suspect that these aren’t just technical problems. Forensic Engineering and Industrial Design can all reveal that these weren’t naturally occurring issues but sabotage. A 1 point spend indicates that it stems from someone accessing the labs systems in the cargo section. A 2 point spend indicates whoever is doing it is using Dubble’s access codes.


While there are three leads for the PCs to investigate D  has time to try to get at their ship. Once they’ve eliminated one of the suspects they no longer serve a purpose. D will arrange for their deaths, either using sabotage or by her own hand.

She will make it look like the person was killed by one of the remaining suspects, but not which one. Her goal is to make the remaining suspects look even more guilty. By showing that they are still killing she hopes the PCs will feel threatened and treat them more harshly.

The ideal situation for D is to have the PCs either arrest or kill one of the Baccus. By then she hopes to be hidden away on their vessel when they leave.

The death of the suspect they’ve dismissed shouldn’t happen immediately (otherwise they might realise they are being watched). It should occur a few scenes later, to escalate the tension. Only afterwards might the players realise that the person was killed because they no longer had an interest in them.

If the players instead come to a conclusion about who they think is the killer Dubble will kill that suspect. With the most likely candidate dead the PCs will now have to investigate the remaining leads. This serves the same function, delaying the PCs while making the remaining suspects look more guilty.


The culmination of the investigation should be that the PCs work out that C cloned Dubble and that D killed the original. They should then try to find her, since she must still be on the lab. While she operates from the shielded cargo section D does occasionally venture out.

Holo-surveillance is useful for obtaining footage of D as she moves through the lab. Energy signature and bio-scans can pick her up once she emerges from the cargo section. A 1 point spend can set these systems to continually scan an alert the PCs when they detect an extra life form.

If they explore the cargo section they might find her there. If they head into this section before they’ve established that there is another clone then she’ll have seen them coming and hidden somewhere else in the lab (maybe killing one of the other suspects or planting evidence).

What they will still find is the missing items from Dubble’s room and empty food packages. There is enough evidence to suggest someone has been spending extended periods down here. This could be the clue the players need to work out that D exists.

It is possible that the PCs come to the wrong conclusion and exact justice on one of the versions of Baccus. In which case they may only find out about D after she has stowed away on their vessel, or worse, steals it.

When the PCs do finally come face to face with D she will put up little resistance. Instead she tries to appeal to them. She explains that she didn’t ask to be created, that this was done to her and that she is as real as Dubble was. She didn’t mean to kill the original but she panicked and asks for mercy.

Depending on how you want clones to be viewed in your campaign she could say that as a clone she has no rights and that if they arrest her Boundless will claim she is their property and experiment on her. If they let her go she can pretend to be the original Dubble. All they have to do is cover up the murder.

If they point out to her the other murders she has committed or the times she has endangered their lives or challenge whether the real Dubble would have done those things she’ll collapse. D knows what they are saying is true, that her anger and despair at her existence has made her a monster. She’ll accept whatever punishment they inflict on her.


So who is the real Baccus?

The answer is none of them are. Baccus died during the cloning procedure of natural causes. Dubble knew enough of the cloning procedure to use the back up clone chamber to create a third clone. She hid the real Baccus in cargo section in a freezer.

The PCs can discover this when they are exploring the cargo section. It is the only freezer unit that has a security lock on it. This can be opened with a infiltration check (6) or using the security codes from Dubble’s tether. Forensic anthropology can establish the cause of death and a 1 point spend finds the ID chip Baccus implanted to prove he was the original.

The PCs will need to decide if they will tell the remaining clones their true nature or leave them in peaceful ignorance.


4 thoughts on “The Three Of A Kind Murder

    • Good to hear you liked it and thank you for the twitter traffic!

      Of all the settings this took the longest to come up with a satisfying hook that would do justice to the game. I was watching something about cloning and I suddenly thought how that would complicate a murder investigation.

      I’m pleased with how it turned out because in addition to being a murder mystery you can see how a small change (a single identifying letter and a different job) makes all three Baccus different people despite starting from the same point.

  1. This is super-fun. I would totally run this; it’s a nifty mystery that’s beautifully laid out and explained. Thank you for posting this.

    I may have noticed two minor inconsistencies. Bullshit detection could reveal that C is lying about not cloning Dubble (I don’t think that option is mentioned), and if there’s a reason that the Cargo Bay is shielded from bio-scans, I missed it. I’d probably give the PCs a technobabble explanation for that so that they have a reason for the initial scan only showing 3 living suspects.

    Your thoughts?

    • Glad you liked it. If you do run it let me know how it turns out.

      I did intend to explain why the cargo bay was shielded but forgot but now you’ve reminded me I’ve added it in. My idea is that the cargo bay holds the food supplies, chemicals and vital components so it was shielded to protect it from radiation and meson emissions. D knew it would be the perfect place to hide.

      C actually doesn’t remember that he did clone Dubble as D removed his memory of it after she knocked him out. They can find out that he was planning to do so and he will even go as far as to say he was planning to clone her the day of Dubble’s murder and can’t remember why he didn’t.

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