Off Course , Lonely places in deep space in Gamemasters Corner, Adventures & Plots
uncle_jimbo Sep 7 2008, 01:17 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
If a ship's navigator is not particularly skilled, or on a long journey with many starfalls, it's quite likely that the Drivespace Off Course Results table will come into play, sending the ship away to a specified distance in a random wrong direction. This may place the ship close to a star system on the map (detailed or only a name), but it may not.

Some possibilities for a location with nothing shown on the map:
  • An uncharted star - most likely a primary of low visibility (stellar class K or M or a non-main-sequence object, more likely single than multiple) that may have planets
  • A free-planet, most likely frozen unless it has its own source of heat, possibly with satellites
  • A space station, either carrying on some activity specific to interstellar space or inhabited by a group of people who have reason to avoid known systems
  • An interstellar cloud or nebula of dust, exotic molecules or some other material
  • A group of creatures adapted to interstellar space
  • Truly empty space
Quite likely different regions of space (core, spiral arms or galactic voids, settled or unsettled) will influence the objects likely to be found there. Combinations are also moderately likely - an uncharted star with a space station, or a nebula inhabited by creatures - so maybe some results should include an additional roll for a secondary feature.

These aren't intended all to be dangerous, harmful or even interesting. Some might be, but the majority of jumps to empty space should essentially result in a few days of staring out the portholes at nothingness while the stardrive recharges and the bridge crew re-plot a starfall to the GM's prepared adventure.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Oct 23 2009, 09:22
bri_aitsya Sep 7 2008, 02:53 Group: Heroes, Master of the Dread Tome Quote Post
I know that as a system, Alternity doesn't really do random encounter charts/ tables, but a case like this could be helpful on the fly for a starfaring game of any kind to a GM. Hmm! An idea to develop!
uncle_jimbo Sep 7 2008, 04:02 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Maybe a series of prepared encounters would be useful instead, though more work.

A derelict starship or smaller piece of interesting debris might be another possible feature.

Apart from anything else, knowing that such a table exists might help the suspension of disbelief when the players run into a published adventure that begins "En route to Planet such-and-such, you drop out of drivespace due to a navigational error to behold a mysterious object where no such object should be.."
Guardian Sep 7 2008, 09:44 Group: Heroes, WarHulk AI Quote Post
The Bay would fit in here, I think. If I can't find the stuff in my files, though, we'll have to hope LastMaxim comes by.
derek_holland Sep 7 2008, 09:50 Group: Heroes, Master of Mutant Creation Quote Post
Didn't Dawn do one of her random tables for this in Action Check?
bri_aitsya Sep 7 2008, 19:50 Group: Heroes, Master of the Dread Tome Quote Post
Perhaps a prepared series of encounters would work, but seeing that this event would only occur due to some 'random' quirk of fate, who's to argue that the quirk of fate could yield equally random results? Some prep work would be necessary to a degree, but if the players either don't care or know that a random encounter chart is being used, who's the wiser? It may also serve as a red herring for the heroes' current mission, or else it may be a springboard for another adventure. The GMG's chapter on Adventure Design isn't opposed to the notion, it just simply doesn't provide stock random enounter tables.

If such a work was already printed in Action Check, the work probably should be dusted off at some point, and re-examined for consideration, if a GM out there is considering this.
uncle_jimbo Sep 19 2009, 12:49 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Just looking at this again, I've quickly put together some random tables by adapting from the GMG Chapter 14:

Text

A. Determine any naturally occurring astronomical objects
(d8: Cluster or Coreward spiral arm -1, Rimward spiral arm or void roll d12 instead)

        1        Uncharted star system
                        Determine number of objects (Table G58, -2 to roll, Cluster or Coreward spiral arm +1, Rimward spiral arm or gulf -1)
                                Binary star systems (d6): 1 K (K), 2 K (M), 3 K (brown dwarf), 4 M (M), 5-6 M (brown dwarf)        All: Planets d12-7, Orbit Track III
                        Determine class of a single primary (d20)
                                1-3        Main sequence (K)        Planets d12-5, Orbit Track II
                                4-7        Main sequence (M)        Planets d8-2, Orbit Track III
                                8-10        White dwarf                Planets d12-8, Orbit Track V
                                11-12        Black dwarf                Planets d8-2, Orbit Track V
                                13-20        Brown dwarf                Planets d8-3, Orbit Track III
                        Planets and moons: As normal

        2-3        Free-planet (d4)
                        1        Gas giant, small                Moons d12        Modifier 0 (-2)
                        2        Super-Terran, cold        Moons d6        Modifier -1 (-3)
                        3        Terran, cold                Moons d4        Modifier -3 (-5)
                        4        Sub-Terran, cold                Moons d3        Modifier -5 (-7)

        4        Nebula

        5-8        No astronomical objects

B. Determine any encounters (d20: Star system -1, Old Space -1, Stellar Nation +0, Open Space +1)

        1-3        Space station
        4-5        Starship
        6        Derelict, debris, ruin or artifact
        7-20        No encounter

        Allegiance (d12)
        1-5        Nearest colonial government        
        6-9        Private/Independent/Criminal/Clandestine
        10-11        Rival government
        12        External

        Possible purposes: Scientific, Supply/Depot, Colony, Fleet base, Observation, Mining, Training facility


Free-planets have two moon modifiers listed, just because I find I get more believable results from the Moons table by applying a -2 shift, so you might decide to use the first value for compatibility with systems generated using the GMG or the second for better-proportioned satellites.

Unlike exploring a new system, these are definitely slanted towards boring results - otherwise, they'd be on the star chart - but there are chances to find something more interesting if the players want to poke around over the two to five days that they have to wait for the stardrive to recharge.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Apr 29 2010, 04:17
uncle_jimbo Sep 19 2009, 23:16 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
"Uncharted" probably should imply "not surveyed in detail" rather than totally unknown. Even in Open Space, astronomers most likely would have catalogued all objects of significant mass and emissions (which is why I left such things as black holes and neutron stars off the table). Stellar nations would each have a different history and policy of deep-space exploration, but at minimum, I'd expect more and sharper astronomical scans of their claimed territory, probably (by PL 7) detecting planets down to Terran size with their surface and atmospheric composition. In Old Space, every system should have been visited at least by an automated probe and more likely had a basic planetary survey that would have found any obvious biospheres and useful minerals.

This means that each stellar system should have a catalogue number and appear in standard astronomical references (say, of Good quality). Free-planets or even brown dwarfs might well go undetected in Open Space.


I don't think there is a lot more interest in random low-mass stars and rocks (certainly, that's the impression a GM ought to give, in preparation for the one time a little-known brown dwarf is important). Minor space stations and other constructs (such as navigation beacons) are more likely to influence a campaign, and at the same time, seem more difficult to generate. It should be worth revisiting the spaceport details in Starships next, but maybe the most useful development would be a series of minor stations (both typical and interesting) rather than a randomiser.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Sep 19 2009, 23:30
Guardian Sep 20 2009, 02:56 Group: Heroes, WarHulk AI Quote Post
Well, a rock in space does have some features. Like you have a navigational checkpoint. There might be some bits of ore, but they were likely mined off by the first person to stumble over the place. Or you could find a ship crashed into it and scavenged to the bare metal.

Bits of flavor, y'know?
uncle_jimbo Sep 20 2009, 04:00 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
A system that might be useful for navigation beacons (edit: increased the output):

Power Plants
Progress Level 7: Gravity Age
Dark matter trickle cell
Tech: D
Power: 2
Total cost: $750 K
Min size: 1
Max size: 1
Fuel: No

Similar to radio-isotope generators of previous eras, this miniaturised power unit exploits a matrix of dark matter particles that produces energy by slow decay over an extended period of time. In the Gravity Age, this actually produces enough sustained output to maintain active emitter systems such as system-range beacons. A dark matter trickle cell can operate for hundreds of years before its duodecim slurry fails, then it must be completely replaced due to irradiation of the casing.
Its operation is a simple outgrowth of the physical discoveries that also led to the mass reactor. Units of essentially similar design have been used in space stations and long-distance probes from the outer Solar System across the Stellar Ring, since the start of the 22nd century.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Sep 20 2009, 04:24
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