Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 04
A lack of events eventually leads to an interesting connecting-the-dots experience for Osman.
Allenby B557455-B, 004-3466
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [3, 6] = 9. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . None.
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: 2 None.
So, they wanted the briefcase with the actual sample but Osman effectively got them similar information another way. Are they satisfied? seems like a reaction throw. Gonna toss in a +1 DM for Osman’s attempt what he found them wasn’t useless by any means.
2d6+1: [5, 4]+1 = 10. Responsive.
“So you got creative, Mr. Celik. Well done.” says Devika as she pages through Osman’s files on her computer. “Yes, I think everything is in order here. I’ll instruct our patron to transfer the funds to your account.”
Osman +Cr10000 (5095->15095)
Allenby B557455-B, 005-3466
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [2, 6] = 8. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . None.
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: 1 None.
-Cr50 meals, museum ticket
Osman spends the day at the Old Gaepri art museum.
Allenby B557455-B, 006-3466
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [2, 6] = 7. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . Yes.
- 2d6-2: [3, 4]-2 = 5 Major
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6:  None.
Kina figured one of these legal rolls would pop it would be the hotel connecting Osman to the beatings of two employees but perhaps Dame Havva’s connections have hushed up any investigation. I imagine this planet is rather corrupt.
-Cr120, taxis, food.
Osman, curious, heads down to the starport to do a little commodities trading. There’s a strong storm blowing through the settlements of Old & New Gaepri today. The taxis are busy and it takes Osman a while to find one. He tips the overworked drivers well.
First of all, Osman doesn’t have the capital to do this type of investment but I wanted to remember how this worked in the original rules.
The 1977 rules appear to assume a player-run starship for trading, though there are references to chartering ships for travel. Other Traveller games I’ve read/played assume the PCs might buy & sell cargo but without their own ship. Zozer’s SOLO goes into some detail about this so I will sprinkle in a few details from those rules if necessary.
The Broker section in the 1977 rules is oddly written. It says there are four types of brokers but then does not clearly explain what this means. The Traveller Book clears this up by having a table of DM +1 through DM +4 Brokers (and their fees); It is not that there are 4 “types” but that there is one type of Broker and there are 4 different levels of expertise. Perhaps this was clear to others but I thought the presentation was clumsy. Types could’ve referred different classes of cargo or different types of brokers that handle different segments of the transaction. As usual I’ve overthought things.
- What? (1d610)-10 + 1d6: (210)-10+ = 13 Liquor
- How many? 1d65: 5 = 15 Tons
- How much? (Admin-1) 2d6-1: [2, 6]-1 = 7 100%
- Cr10000 per ton. 150,000 for the lot. Can be purchased in partial lots but with a 1% additional processing fee
Osman finds a seller who strikes up a conversation, eager to move some crates of liquor. He does some quick math in his head and realizes he doesn’t have the means to pull this deal off. He heads back home somewhat discouraged but with a better understanding of the economics of speculative trading.
Allenby B557455-B, 007-3466
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [5, 5] = 10. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . Yes.
- 2d6-2: [3, 5]-2 = 6 Moderate
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: 1 None.
Light rain keeps Osman close to home today, he decides to do some shopping to avoid having to eat out so much.
Allenby B557455-B, 008-3466
- Weekly patron roll (5+), 1d6: . None.
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [1, 6] = 7. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: 2. None.
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6:  None.
Osman calls Devika on the secure phone.
“The client was very happy with your work, Mr. Celik. We will keep a low profile for a few days but I’ll be in touch again soon.”
Allenby B557455-B, 009-3466
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [5, 5] = 10. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . None.
- 2d6-2: [3, 5]-2 = 6 Moderate
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6:  None.
Not a ton happening, I think we’ll turn to the Travelling Alone sequence and see what happens.
- Upkeep: Nothing relevant. Next (4)
- Sell Equipment/Misc. Next (5)
- Throw 9+ to find buyer for Low Passage - 2d6: [5, 5] = 10
- Event: (1d610) + 1d6: (10)+ = 56. Gear/Ship issue.
- -Cr40 Boots.
- Options. Self-improvement progress towards Electronics-0.
- Buy/Sell Equipment. None needed.
For a moment Osman thinks a pair of local cops are tailing him but they turn and wonder off in another direction. Osman heads over to the Old Gaepri market where he finds someone interested in buying a spare Low Passage ticket he earned in the Navy. He finds a desperate buyer and sells it for Cr900.
The last two rain storms have taken a toll on Osman’s footwear so he buys a new pair of boots at an outdoor recreational store.
From there he heads to the local library. His encounter with the electronic lock has stuck with him and he realizes he needs to start learning more about electronics.
Traveller has these self-improvement rules based around picking up Level-2 in a skill after 4 years of study. That still feels pretty spot on to me. There’s very little guidance for “okay, but what about level-0?” I can tell you my at-the-time eleven year old wanted to learn basic electronics and programming. They bought maybe $60 USD of kit, read a guide, and watched some YouTube videos. In about 30 days they had taught themselves wiring, circuits, reading sensor data, controllers, motors, etc. Hard for someone in the late 1970s to anticipate how quickly one could bring themselves up to level-0 in many skill areas with the Internet.
Allenby B557455-B, 010-3466
Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [6, 1] = 7. None.
Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . None.
Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: . Yes.
- (1d610) + 1d6: (10)+2 = 52, 7 Traders with a Vehicle.
- Reaction 2d6: [6, 1] = 7 Non-committal.
Self-improvement progress towards Electronics-0.
Cr100 Taxis, drinks
After a morning session of library studying, Osman heads to the TAS lounge. He strikes up a conversation with a group of traders who need to move cargo from the starport to Old Gaepri. They trade pleasantries with Osman but they aren’t looking for help and don’t offer any actionable leads. In fact whatever they are doing on Allenby they seem to be keeping to themselves about. Osman makes a mental note.
Allenby B557455-B, 011-3466
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [1, 5] = 6. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . None.
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: . Yes.
- (1d610) + 1d6: (10)+ = 55, Noble with retinue (6)
- Noble’s title 1d6+10:  1) duke, 2) duchess 1d2: 2 duchess
- From Allenby (yes) or elsewhere (no)? 2d6: [5, 4] = 9 Yes.
- 2d6: [4, 2] = 6 Unreceptive.
Osman decides to try out a cantina near the art district. The Duchess Valencia Carderas is there with group and Osman tries to integrate himself into their conversations but they ignore him.
Osman wonders if the Carderas family are involved in whatever the traders were delivering to Old Gaepri yesterday.
We’ll give Osman a shot on a 5+ to pick up a rumor, 1d6:  Yes!
What industry are they in? I’ll use my custom corporation generator I wrote once upon a time… I think it includes some random table concepts from a Stars Without Number supplement… Suns of Gold?
- Carderas Assets
- Industry: Liquor
- Reputation & Rumors: Lost money to an smuggler who evaded arrest
Listening in on their conversations he picks up on few details. They are in town delivering shipments of a brand new liquor to local restaurants. They seem to have lost a shipment of these liquors. Osman thinks back to the trader he ran into earlier in the week and then the tight lipped traders. He decides tomorrow he’ll head back to the starport and ask a few questions. Tracking down the smuggler could make a friend of the Duchess and Osman could clearly use a few more friends.
Random rolls for the win!
The downside of random events is nothing prompts your brain to act and so your character(s) have to be proactive. Possibly I should’ve thrown Osman to the wolves and let something happen sooner but I’m happy with how this ended up.
I may need to follow Andy Slack’s lead and roll-up events across the week and then weave them back into a story. I believe that’s how he handle time and events during his solitaire Traveller game.
Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 03
Housekeeping: Osman spent some credits at the coffeeshop of course. Cr5 we’ll say.
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [5, 5] = 10. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . None.
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6:  None.
This is a mixed game session, with some chit-chat but we finally get around to the mission (and punching!) so hang in there.
Allenby B557455-B, 003-3466
“New Gaepri Starport, the Travellers Aid Society building, please.” says Osman as he gets into a taxi.
Any chance the taxi driver makes for good conversation?
Reaction throw 2d6: [1, 6] = 7. Non-committal. Nope. Cab fare Cr-40
Osman pays the driver the cab fee and a generous tip. Solitude is priceless, Osman figures.
Stepping out into the busy starport of New Gaepri, Osman notices that most seem occupied with their own inner thoughts. He makes his way to the TAS entrance. A video screen displays several scenes of the luxury of High Passage, friendly faces, and a voice over saying “In these troubles times, it’s good to know you’ve got a friend.” It is followed up with several news blurbs from the TAS News Service.
What’s the news? I’ll throw three pairs of actions + themes from Starforged:
- Withdraw Hope
- Evade Warning
- Falter World
A terraforming project on the remote world of Gough has ended in disaster after unstable conditions, which scientists had warned about, escalated into a planet-wide calamity. Millions of people were left behind in with little more than the hulls of the colony ships they came on. Osman wondered who would let such a thing happen.
“Can I help you?” ask the TAS desk agent.
Borrowing something from Zozer’s SOLO: Throw 10+ to meet an old friend 2d6: [6, 5] = 11
Who? Well let’s just pick someone at random from 1001 Characters Navy characters 1d136: .
I’m going GM fudge this roll and make it 69 because the entry right below this one has the TAS benefit. Sue me.
Elif Turan, Commander 389577 Age 38 Vacc Suit-3, Gunnery-3, Ship’s Boat-1, Dagger-1, SMG-2
Mythic character descriptors, physical:
Reaction to meeting Osman? Throw in a +1 for frienship. 2d6+1: [6, 4]+1 = 11. Enthusiastic.
“Yes, I’m here to meet a friend in the lounge.” says Osman as they hand over their membership ID chip. “Commander Turan?”
“Of course, right this way, Lieutenant Commander Celik.”
The agent walks Osman into the lounge and points him towards a table where he sees a muscular man with a similar skin tone as his own.
Turan stands up. “Osman! Good to see you again.” And the two embrace before sitting down together.
“How’s the Navy?”
“Oh, the usual Osman. You know the drill. Forms, delays, and… politics. You hear from your family on Pershing?”
“Not often. My father gets a message to me from time-to-time, in between merchant runs. Are you still running that old maintenance boat?”
“Indeed, cleaning up the usual messes but surely you didn’t come to talk about welding hulls?”
Osman takes a look around the room and moves closer in “There’s a group here from Danilov.”
Elif cuts off Osamn “Geez, what did yourself caught up in?”
“Nothing you wouldn’t do for your family.”
“Danilov. I need them to stick around for a few days. Any contacts you have that could… delay their departure clearances?”
Can Elif help? Yes/No Oracle, Likely 2d6+1: [5, 2]+1 = 8 Yes. Does Elif want payment? Yes/No Oracle, 50/50 2d6: [1, 6] = 7 Yes, but.
“Yeeeah, I could make that happen. It’ll cost you though. Trade me your next TAS High Passage.”
Osman ponders this, he could it use for his own family on Pershing but where would he put them? Osman has more work to do before he can help his family find a better life here.
The waiter comes over with the check.
“Also, you get the bill.” says Elif as he slides it over to Osman.
“Travellers’ Aid Society facilities pro- vide excellent quality meals to members and guests for CR 20.” — Book 03, Page 15.
Osman: -Cr20. Now down to Cr5155 in the bank and short a future high passage.
Afternoon on Allenby B557455-B, 003-3466
Osman strolls up to the Barbatius Hotel in his naval dress and walks to the front desk.
“Hello, I’m looking to host an event for a collection of naval officers. I was wondering if I could take a look at your event spaces?”
I figure in an abstract way this is an Administration throw:
“When contact with officials is required, understanding of their needs and motives will assist in dealings with them. A basic throw of 7+ will successfully resolve normal interaction without further problems.”
Osman is hoping this hotel official needs business.
2d6+1: [2, 5]+1 = 8
Random character from 1001 Characters, Others 1d136: 
Geli Sabin 996656, Computer-1, Steward-1
Mythic character descriptors, physical:
Geli’s reaction to Osman 2d6: [5, 5] = 10. Responsive.
“Certainly, let me notify our Events Coordinator.”
Osman waits for a moment and narrow women in a brightly colored dress appears. She leads Osman on a tour of several event spaces and asks several questions, trying to determine Osman’s requirements.
Osman is primarily interested in whether there are any robots employed within their Hotel’s staff.
Book 08, Robots says “On worlds of tech level 12 or greater (and an rare occasions, on worlds of tech level 10 or 11) characters may expect to encounter robots in the course of their activities.”
Are Robots used with staff? 2d6+2: [1, 4]+2 = 7 Yes, but.
Maybe there’s a Star Wars-like distrust of robots on Allenby. Presumably the population, desperate to climb the corporate ladder out of poverty, is not keen on robots taking their jobs.
“Robots? Certainly not, Lieutenant…? Celerk… For serving event attendees we would only use humans.”
Osman nods, better she misremember his name he supposes.
“You will find robots in The Barbatius amongst our housekeeping staff. We also employ a robot bartender but you would not see them during your event. For janitorial stuff during an event they would be humans.”
Osman thanks the woman for her time and says he’ll be in touch.
“Just one last thing, m’am. May I take a few photos of the spaces?”
Do we still have photos in the year 3466? Who knows. I assume the Hand Computer Osman has is similar to iPhone tho. Whether it is a holographic camera or whatever…
Would Geli let Osman take photos? 2d6: [5, 1] = 6 No, but
“No, but you may have these samples instead.” she hands him a data chip “This also contains details about each space, number of occupants, etc. Also, my business contact is on there. If you wish to discuss pricing details, please contact me directly.”
Osman will make an attempt to loose the attention of the lobby staff when they return to the lobby. Marc Miller has said that throwing equal or under a characteristic was a tool a referee should employ, so we’ve got (9-, DEX) 2d6: [4, 5] = 9
An attendant tries to walk Osman out but it is busy in the lobby and just as a series of guests walk in with their luggage, Osman slips out of view.
He’s without a key card to access the elevator but he searches around for a maintenance area.
I wouldn’t normally call for a throw here but it is like using an Yes/No Oracle in my mind. I’m going to grant a +1 given the time Osman spent as a ship mechanic. Is it the same as Hotel mechanic, no. But a maintenance room, is a maintenance room, etc. The signage is the same and it is probably somewhere completely difficult for an ordinary person to stumble onto. (10- INT+1) 2d6: [3, 1] = 4
Is it locked? Very likely. 2d6+2: [6, 2]+2 = 10. Yes.
Is it an electronic lock? Very likely. 2d6+2: [2, 3]+2 = 7. Yes, but.
Is there somewhere to hide? likely. 2d6+1: [3, 4]+1 = 8
How many maintenance people might return? I’ll use the Two Hour Wargames party size formula:
(1d3+1)-1d3: (+1)- = 0 (never less than 1)
Random Maintenance Guy from 1001 Characters, Others: A8759A Engineering-I, Vacc-1, Blade-1
- Surprise, Osman 1d6:  vs. Rando 1d6 .
- Range. 2d6-5: [2, 5]-5 = 2 Close, In physical contact; touching.
- Does the rando try to escape? 2d6: [3, 1] = 4 No
- Does the rando try to evade? 2d6: [6, 3] = 9 Yes. -1 DM to Osman
- Osman will stand.
- Osman throws a punch. 2d6-1+3+1+2+1: [4, 2]-1+3+1+2+1 = 12
- The -1 was for the rando evading.
- The +3 is because the other person is “untrained” in Brawling. So is Osman, but all PCs are considered to have Weapons-0.
- The +1 is for the defender having no armor.
- The +2 is for the defender at close range.
- The last +1 is for Osman STR of 9
- Damage 1d6: 
- First blood: 1) strength, 2) dexterity, or 3) endurance. 1d3:  strength. A->8.
- Osman END 9 (9): 8 combat blows left.
- Is there a Fire Extinguisher? 2d6: [4, 2] = 6 No, but
- There’s a maintenance cart.
- Does the rando try to evade, unlikely? 2d6-1: [5, 4]-1 = 8 Yes
- Osman will “stand” but I think he’s got his eye on maneuvering into a favorable position to utilize the maintenance cart
- Osman throws another punch. 2d6-1+3+1+2+1: [1, 4]-1+3+1+2+1 = 11
- Damage 1d6:  referee determines stat, I would default to END: 7->1
- Osman END 9 (8): 7 combat blows left.
new round: Does the rando try to evade, very unlikely? 2d6-2: [6, 2]-2 = 6 No, but
- they are trying to open range then, but they stay in close range for a round.
- Osman will stand.
- Rando will try to push Osman back into a wall or the cart to help open range. 2d6-1+2: [2, 4]-1+2 = 7. Misses.
- Osman has no armor: -1
- Osman is at close range: +2
- Osman throws another punch. 2d6-1+3+1+2+1: [4, 3]-1+3+1+2+1 = 13
- Damage 1d6:  END 1->0 (Unconscious, 10m.), STR 8->3.
- Osman END 9 (7): 6 combat blows left.
did anyone hear the scuffle? 2d6-1: [1, 2]-1 = 2 No, and
- hrm, maybe the other maintenance staff called in sick today.
Osman locates the maintenance room but it is locked with an electronic biometric lock. He hides himself in the shadows and waits. A tough but older look maintenance person appears heading towards the door. Osman tries to surprise him but fails and the two get into a scuffle. Osman throws several punches while the maintenance man tries to push him away. The third punch knocks the man out cold and Osman drags him over to the door. He lifts the unconscious man’s hand to the lock and the door opens. Dragging the man insides he looks around for some rope to tie the man up.
Is there rope, likely? 2d6+1: [4, 6]+1 = 11 Yes.
After securing the maintenance worker, Osman takes their ID and changes into another maintenance workers jumpsuit. Osman stuffs his naval outfit into a duffel and puts it over his shoulder. He removes the radio from the worker’s belt, clips it on his own belt, and leaves.
Throw 8+ to disable the electronic door lock: 2d6: [2, 6] = 8.
Osman doesn’t have the Electronic skill but may have some general familiarity with concepts from time in the Navy. Book 01 does not give a clear “no expertise” DM for Electronic and instead says the referee decides. Since we are just pulling wires… I figure it is 50/50.
Osman pries open the electronic door lock panel and takes a guess at which wires to sever. The lock’s screen dims as Osman presumably gets the right ones. He puts the duffel & toolkit on the maintenance cart and heads down the hallway looking for the maintenance elevator.
Evening on Allenby B557455-B, 003-3466
Has anyone checked on the maintenance staff? 2d6+1: [3, 1]+1 = 5 No. Why? Maybe Osman has been answering the normal radio calls?
Starforged descriptor focus: Abundant Environment. Broken room window?
In order to keep up the ruse, Osman deals with an actual hotel maintenance problem.
“That should take of the jammed window, M’am. Apologies for the inconvenience.”
Osman’s attempt to swipe an extra keycard from the guest (throw DEX 9-): 2d6: [3, 5] = 8
Osman leaves the room, having pocketed an extra keycard hoping it will help cover his tracks.
Osman perception throw to find networking room (throw INT 9-) 2d6: [6, 2] = 8
He heads to middle lobby floor guessing that will be the best place for the networking room. His instincts are right because off the elevator lobby area is a door marked COMPUTER ROOM.
Does the maintenance keycard open the computer room? 2d6+2: [2, 3]+2 = 7 Yes, but.
- It does but there’s someone inside. Citizens of the Imperium, scientists 1d40: 22
756568, Computer-1, Mechanical-5, Electronics-1
Going to guess their high Mechanical suggest they used to be maintenance staff here - so they’ll know Osman is fake.
Need a name for the rando mechanic: Servac
“Oh, Hi?” the computer tech looks Osman over. “Who the hell are you?”
“New trainee, Servac sent me up here to check the air vents.”
Reaction throw 2d6-2: [2, 3] = 3 Hostile. Attacks on 5+. 2d6: [5, 1] = 6. Attacks.
“Bullshit!” the computer tech lunges
Osman’s Combat Blows END has been restored to 9 having had 30+ minutes to recover
Surprise, Osman 1d6:  vs. Tech 1d6 .
Range. 2d6-5: [5, 6]-5 = 6 Medium, at pistol range, 6 to 50 meters.
- Well okay it is not 50 minutes but 6 is probably about right. A little bigger than a car length I guess? Seems more than reasonable for a computer room.
Does the tech try to escape or evade? Referee fiat says no, they clearly are going to attack based on the reaction throw.
Tech will close range, running at double speed (counts as a “combat blow” END (6->5)). As it takes 3 rounds to go from Medium to Short, we will say they can do it in 1 running (rounding down).
Osman will stand and throw the metal toolbox from the cart at the tech. Throw 18+ to hit: 2d6-3+1+9: [5, 6]-3+0+9 = 19
- Seems like “drawing” a weaponL -3 DM
- +DEX per “throwing rules”
- +0 defender has no armor (“club”)
- the rules say that daggers can be thrown at short range… but I don’t see why Osman can attempt to toss the toolkit given the room size. I suspect the “medium” range really reflects things like chairs, tables, etc that are getting in the way
- I don’t see how there is possibly an untrained defending penalty here… that’s absurd. who the hell trains against getting hit by a toolbox?
Damage (“Club”): 2d6-3: [4, 2]-3 = 3
First blood: 1) strength, 2) dexterity, or 3) endurance. 1d3:  strength. 7->4.
- Range is now short. Did you know there are not rules for “cover” in Book 01? Weird. If it comes into play I’ll just borrow this rule as guidance from Paul Elliot:
“Cover: Targets are considered under cover if they are behind a solid object which a shot cannot penetrate. A character who has attacked from a covered position is allowed a defending DM of -4 when attacked. If the individual has not attacked from cover, he or she is not visible at the moment and may not be attacked.”
- Is there space for Osman to ram the cart into the tech? 2d6: [1, 1] = 2 No, and. In fact it is like super cramped in here. Which sound like every server room I’ve ever spent time in.
- Is there a monitor Osman can pick up? 2d6: [2, 5] = 7 Yes, but. There is but it is plugged into something.
- Osman will stand but is effectively spending movement trying to wrestling the monitor out from the computer, wall, or whatever it is.
- The tech at short range will close range. 1 round.
- The tech will throw a punch. 2d6-1+1: [2, 4]-1+1 = 6
- Osman has no armor -1 (in future rounds, having fully wrestled the monitor free I would grant Osman some form of improvised armor DM)
- Osman is at short range +1
- Osman will swing the monitor (“club”) at the tech. 2d6+0+2+2: [2, 3]+0+2+2 = 9
- tech has no armor +0 (“club”)
- tech is at short range +2
- Osman’s STR gives him an advantagegous DM of +2
- is there an untrained penalty here? probably? I dunno.
- Damage: 2d6-3: [4, 5]-3 = 6
- Damage goes to END which leaves the man unconscious for 10 minutes.
- I’m just going to rule that the tech is out for three hours after Osman bashes this man again with the monitor, reducing another characteristics to zero. Would you make a player roll through this? Not me.
The tech is down the hallway in a cramped server room. They push out of their chair and start running towards Osman, who pickups and throws the toolkit at the tech. It hits the tech in the shoulder and they wince in pain. As the near Osman, preparing to throw a punch, Osman rips a status monitor off the wall and hits the tech in the head with the elbow-like corner of it. The tech crumples to the floor and Osman breaks the monitor over the tech’s skull.
Is Xasho Rer’Mis’s computer on the hotel network? 2d6: [2, 6] = 8 Yes.
Computer Programing was omitted from the 1977 rules but addressed in the Journal of the Traveller’s Aid Society #1, Page 7. But sadly these rules are really specific to Starship computer programs. Still we can borrow the min INT (7+) and Size rule as a DM.
Throw INT+Computer or less to find Xasho’s machine on the network (10-): 2d6: [2, 5] = 7
Osman sits down at a console and begins to scan for connected machines. Locating Xasho Rer’Mis’s personal computer, Osman grins and flexes his fingers. He begins to script a routine to access Xasho’s machine.
Throw INT+Computer-Size(1) or less to access Xasho’s machine (9-): 2d6: [6, 3] = 9
“Nonetheless, there is always the possibility that such a program will have a fatal error and not function when actually used.” — Book 01, Page 17
Throw 7 exactly for a fatal error: 2d6: [6, 2] = 8
- Are there detailed files about the glass sample? Likely 2d6+1: [6, 2]+1 = 9 Yes.
- Is there a thumb-drive or whatever the heck passes for remote storage around here? Very likely. (ever been in a server room? people leave crap everywhere) 2d6+2: [4, 3]+2 = 9 Yes.
Gaining access, he scans Xasho’s machine for files pertaining to the detailed schematics of the glass sample. He plugs a remote disk into the console and copies the files he finds over. He closes out the terminal and switches back into his naval dress, leaving the maintenance clothes behind. He exits the room and uses the guest keycard to access the elevator to head back down to the lobby.
DEX- throw to avoid being seen? Probably. 2d6: [3, 4] = 7.
Osman weaves his weave in and out of the evening bar & dinner crowd to exit the hotel. Hailing a taxi he heads back home to rest.
Going to skip any interactions between Osman and the taxi driver… he’s too tired. Cab fare Cr-40
Well I probably messed up a rule somewhere but I had fun, so yay? I think that’s what matters. Combat is alright. Won’t lie, I greatly prefer Two Hour Wargame’s abstracted RPG-Counters/Mini battleboard combat system but this was entertaining in the 1-on-1 mode. For larger groups I might end up pulling my hair out.
Did Osman need to delay the Danilovians? Maybe not but it is a pretty typical player trope to over-think and plan is it not? Heh. I do think the scene between Elif and Osman establishes a bit of motivation for Osman to not just get a 9-5 job as a pilot somewhere. He wants to get his family off Pershing faster than it would take the honest way.
Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 02
Let’s do our daily rolls and see what adventure we’ll have today:
- Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [2, 4] = 6. None.
- Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: . None.
- Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6:  None.
Not everyday in Traveller is a randomly eventful one. This gives Osman more time to get into trouble on their own of course.
Some questions to set the opening scene then:
Osman went out to dinner, caught up with an old friend — possibly had too much to drink?
2d6: [1, 2] = 3 No
Did Havva stock the apartment with food for Osman? 2d6: [4, 6] = 10 Yes
Allenby B557455-B, 002-3466
It is morning on Allenby and Osman opens up various drawers and cupboards in the apartment’s kitchen to find something basic to eat. He remembers the supplements the government gave him, pours a glass of water, and takes one of the pills.
Osman takes the elevator down to the ground floor and walks to his meeting with Devika Verma. He passes some art galleries, a fashion boutique, and a VRcade. A large video screen inside the VRacade catches his eye. It shows a group of oversized robots fighting over a ball on a large field. Osman glances down at his watch to check the time.
Ok, well I didn’t take Osman on a shopping trip but he must have some items he acquired over the years even if they were mostly bought at the military base commissary. Mostly I’m want to build up additional backstory for the type of character Osman is.
Book 03, Personal Devices:
“Wrist Watch (3) CR 25 to CR 1000. Price determines quality.”
What kind of watch does Osman like? reaction throw knows!
2d6: [4, 5] = 9
Fancy watches then. Maybe… -Cr750 for the watch
Also… where is the meeting taking place? I have several tools I could use here… including just making something up. I do have this lovely “5150 City Deck” of buildings so I’ll draw a card:
Osman passes through several city blocks and notices that this side of Old Gaepri looks older, less put together. He walks up to the address he was given to find a gothic-style residential building. The downstairs apartment buzzer is broken but Osman finds a working elevator inside. Stopping off at the 6th floor, Osman locates the apartment door and knocks.
What does Devika look like? Mythic character descriptors, physical:
A woman, taller than Osman, opens the door. She looks Osman over before stretching out a robotic arm and hand. “Welcome to Allenby, I’m Devika.”
“Thank you, Captain…” says Osman after shaking her hand and moving inside.
Devika cuts him off “Just Devika is fine, the Army gave up on me so I gave up the title.”
Osman notices the apartment is mostly unfurnished, dusty. A safe house?
Devika spreads out several large printed photos on a table. She points to an individual in one photo and a gunmetal silver briefcase in another.
Xasho Rer’Mis 35BBB7 Liaison-3, Vehicle-2, Computer-1, Gun Combat-1
“This is Danilov representive Xasho Rer’Mis and where we believe the sample is being kept at all times. The briefcase has a biometric lock that we observed Xasho unlocking with their thumbs during our meetings with them.””
Did they capture a biometric thumbprint from Xasho during this meeting? 2d6-1: [6, 6]-1 = 11 (Unlikely): Yes (Doubles)
“Am I suppose to cut off their thumbs?” quips Osman.
“We do have a sample of their thumbprint captured from a glass of water in the meeting but we believe there are additional safeguards. It is not unheard for Danilovians to use proximity based security mechanisms, such as this wrist band we observed Xasho wearing.” she slides forward another photo.
“So, their wrist then.”
“Hopefully you can get more creative than hacking off body parts.” Devika pauses and gives Osman a wry smille before continuing. “They are staying in New Gaepri at the Barbatius. We have some contacts on the inside and if you need access there we may be able to help. The Danilovians are occupying the entire floor and we assume they’ve come with their own security measures.”
Osman starts to sift through the photos, picking up each one, and looking it over closely. He realizes he has no idea what he’s looking for.
Devika breaks his concentration “Here’s a hand computer, it has some additional information you may find helpful. If you need to contact me, use this encrypted short-range communicator, modified by our techs here on Allenby to enhance the range to cover both populated settlements. Finally, here’s a printed thumbprint, you may be able to use if you can gain access to the briefcase. Obviously we haven’t been able to test it.”
“Do you know what their security forces are carrying?” asks Osman.
“You aren’t packing a gun are you?”
“No. Just a basic Navy cutlass. I have been trained in the auto-pistol though…”
Devika waves him off “Well that explains your proclivity for slicing things off. Pistols are banned here. Even the Danilovians won’t be carrying them. You also won’t be able to slice your way through the security folks, so try to be more creative.” she paused and then says “Oh, Allenby’s Police do have access to pistols. Most of the street cops carry tasers but they can bring in armed reinforcements — let’s not have it escalate to that, alright? It is bad for business.”
“Check out the notes on the hand computer. There are some daily schedules and routines we’ve observed that you can put to use.”
Osman left the apartment and stopped at the local coffee shop. A “free network access” sign at the shop made Osman wonder… were the Danilovians using the hotels network? Osman paged through the notes on the hand computer. Daily routines, types of food they liked, places they liked to visit, and so on.
Most of Osman’s time in the Navy had been free of violence, in fact many of the regional disputes were solved through shrewd negotiations though sometimes shows of force had been helpful. This assignment would be no different, Osman would need to find a weakness and exploit it.
I imagine Osman getting caught up in thinking he’s something he’s not (an assassin, a spy?) before realizing he’s a technician, a pilot… and he’s got Computer-1. He’s also got a TAS membership and a Naval rank - these thing might open a few doors.
Traveller 1977: Animal Encounters - Events
As someone who has mostly played in “human-centric” space opera campaigns, I’ve never paid a ton of attention to Traveller’s Animal Encounter system. This is a bit of slap on my own wrist because I’m often the one to point out that close reading of your RPG books is more beneficial to you than buying more material. System mastery can reap long term rewards and allow you to spend less time homebrewing and hunting around for solutions.
The “animal” system in Book 03 is somewhat misnamed because it is overloaded to handle a couple of concepts:
A decent chunk of the animal rules in Book 03 are really talking about generating fantastic science fiction aliens and beasts. Somewhat hidden in this system is also how to throw “world events” at the PCs. Page 25 has a “BLANK ENCOUNTER COLUMN” table:
A result of 10 is an
E - Event but what are these?
“Events: Events are not necessarily animals, comprising instead both geographic or geologic dangers, and special types of animals not ordinarily encountered. The following examples are provided, but more should be generated by the referee to cover the wide range of possibilities in the universe.” — Book 03, Page 31
There are several example events with a lovely set of “hidden” procedures. Rough terrain, earthquakes, meteor showers, and storms. One of the few supplements I happen to have a hardcopy of is Supplement 2: Animal Encounters. For a variety of common world types it provided a set of pre-generated Animal Encounter tables (columns?.) All of them stick to the same formula for events though - throw 2d6 and on a 10 exactly you’ve got a world event.
There are a variety of weather based events in the Animal Encounters supplement:
“Electrical Storm - Heavy winds and lightning force the party to halt for 12 hours. Unless a refuge (throw 7+ for a cave, cabin, etc) is found, then a lightning hit on electrical equipment (throw 9+) will incapacitate it.” — S02: Animal Encounters, Page 9
There are a number of other environmental challenges: tornados, radiation, soft ground, rough ground, stampedes, laser carbine-strength light-reflecting crystals, lengthy storms, forest fires, etc. It is a nice collection of referee ideas if you aren’t sure what exactly to do with
E-Event and makes a good source of reference for figuring how to handle weather on your worlds.
Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 01
Let’s get the basics of the solitaire framework out of the way:
I’m playing a game using the Classic Traveller rules, 1977 edition, mostly sticking to Books 01, 02, and 03 but I do have the entire Classic Traveller collection from Far Future Enterprises so it is all readily accessible as needed.
Ideally the game is taking place in real-time on a daily scale but we may jump ahead in time if it helps move things along. I don’t usually do this but I’m going to try handle bookkeeping in a method faithful to the rules. To begin keeping log entries for Osman’s daily activities I’ll make my life easy and start at day
01. Further, to keep things simple, we’ll assume a standard 365 day a year, 52 week calendar. Does that make scientific sense? No, no it does not. Does it make my life easier? Yes, yes it does.
But what year is it?
4d6: [3, 4, 6, 6]
I generated a character and gave them a backstory already. As a reminder, here’s the details:
Osman Celik, Lt Cmdr 999988 Age 34
Navy (4 terms) Cr6000
Admin-1, Automatic Pistol-1, Computer-1, Cutlass-1, Navigation-1, Pilot-1, Vacc Suit-1, Weapons-0
Cutlass, Low Passage, TAS Membership
In an effort to keep things simple and rely on Traveller as much as possible I’ll use Traveller’s NPC reaction throw as an oracle at times. If you’ve never seen Traveller’s reaction throw table here it is:
|2||Violent. Immediate attack.|
|3||Hostile. Attacks on 5+.|
|4||Hostile. Attacks on 8+.|
|5||Hostile. May attack.|
In general you can think of this as 2-5 Bad!, 6-7 Meh, 8-10 Ok, 11-12 Great!
I’ll use this simple 2d6 yes/no oracle as necessary if the question fits:
|2 or less||No, and|
|12 or more||Yes, and|
DMs: Very unlikely -2, Unlikely -1, Likely +1, Very likely +2
If I roll doubles then I’ll borrow a page from the Recluse Solo Engine:
If the dice are equal, some presupposition behind the question is wrong! This means that you’re taking something for granted that makes it impossible to answer with “Yes” or “No.” If it’s obvious how your question could be assuming something, change it and ask something else. You can also use your favorite plot twist generator if you need to, but keep in mind that the question itself was wrong; you’ll need to revise your assumptions about the situation and the world, not just add something new.
Where necessary I’ll turn to Mythic Gamemaster Emulator’s or Mythic Magazine’s descriptor tables, Starforged’s oracles, Rory’s Story Cubes, and other misc. random tables that can provide descriptive details about the game world.
Allenby B557455-B, 001-3466
Weekly Patron Encounter: 1d6: 5 Yes!
Patron: 2d6: [4, 1] Diplomat
I’m not sure where the idea that Traveller 1977 has a Daily Legal Encounter throw comes from as I can’t find the rule in my little black books. The Traveller Book (1982) does have this to say about daily legal encounters:
“The referee should throw once per day for legal encounters (throw local law level or less to avoid an encounter). If an encounter is called for, a local enforcer will stop the adventurers and require identification. The referee should roll for the enforcer’s reaction as well, using adverse reactions as an indication of greater harassment, and positive reactions as a potential source of rumors, assistance, or patrons.”
I’ve always played with a random legal encounter throw and I don’t see this type of procedure as a form of the negative “scope creep” that the game took on in later editions so I’ll use The Traveller Book’s guidance. (If we are being straight with each other, The Traveller Book is very good; the procedures and rules language are much clearer across the board then the 1977 edition text.)
Starport Law Encounter: 2d6: [1, 3] = 4. Law Encountered, most likely at starport immigration control.
Reaction Throw: 2d6: [6, 2] = 8. “Interested” (in a positive way).
Osman Celik picks up his bags and boards a routine passenger shuttle from Allenby Orbital Naval Base that is heading to the planet-side downport. As the shuttle approaches the surface, he can see the Centaurus Works shipyards, their insignia blazoned on the roofs of all the workshops. A network of pipelines from the refineries to the east led to a big fuelling station.
There are two main settlements on Allenby, each with a few ten thousand permanent inhabitants. Old Gaepri is built around the retired starport facilities which are being scrapped to help build the expanded starport facilities at New Gaepri. Many more people temporarily live and work on Allenby depending on the needs of the corporation but are not counted as part of the official population; only the most wealthy can afford to own a home here.
Osman enters the well staffed but presently quiet immigration control area.
“Credentials please, Lieutenant Commander.”
“Rank: Characters receiving commissions and promotions (explained below) may use their rank as part of their names, even after leaving the service, or retiring.” — Traveller Book 01 (1977)
Osman, still in naval dress, hands over his identity card to an immigration official who promptly scans the card.
“Thank you, Lieutenant Commander Celik. Purpose of visit?”
“Visiting a friend who lives in Old Gaepri, I plan to stay about a month.”
The immigration official makes notes on Osman’s digital records. “I’m from Old Gaepri, it is a beautiful city. It appears you have…” the official looks closely at Osman’s digital file “… not visited before?”
“That’s right, this is my first time on Allenby.”
“And where will you be staying during your visit?”
Can Osman stay with his “Old Friend”? feels like an NPC Reaction Throw:
2d6: [3, 6] = 9 “Intrigued.” That’s a yes in my book.
“I’m staying at my friend’s apartment, she gave me this address.” Osman holds up an e-mail from his personal communicator for the official to see. The official nods and turns back to their attention back to their computer.
“You should make time to check out the Badri art exhibit while you are in town.” says the official who has finished their record keeping and hands back Osman’s identity card along with a bottle.
“What is this?” ask Osman
“This is two weeks of medical supplements to help your body adjust to the lower gravity conditions on Allenby. You may show your identity card at any Zenith Pharmacy location to obtain another two week dosage. Enjoy your stay.”
Random Weather Encounter: 1d6: 6
Weather intensity: 2d6: [4, 4]-2 = 6
Average Temp on Allenby: 50°F (No seasonal changes)
Osman passes through immigration and collect his belongings. A steady beat of large rain drops gently fall against the exterior windows. Once out of the starport he notices that the air is thin and the buildings from the two competing but compact skylines are very tall. There are many pine trees and odd rock formations around the starport, the kind he’s only previously seen while studying at school. It is a far more picturesque planetside view than anything Osman has experienced in his 34 years though certainly he has seen his fair share beautiful nebulae and astronomic wonders.
Osman grabs a local air/raft taxi and heads to Old Gaepri.
Random Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: 3 None.
What does Osman’s friends place look like?
Mythic locations descriptors, general:
The taxi descends down to the ground near a tall building that is a strong contrast to the sleek and mostly glass starport Osman came from. The building has three different tones of fabulous looking metals with ornate engravings. Osman has also started to notice a pattern; many people on Allenby are much taller and thinner than others. Osman walks to the front door of the building and an attendant greets him at the entrance. After some discussion, Osman is led to an elevator which lifts him up towards the top of the building. Osman exits the elevator, walks through a narrow and twisting set of hallways before coming to a door that is already open.
“Lieutenant Commander, good to see you.” Dame Havva Taş moves in for the kind of hug shared between old friends. Osman is surprised by this show of affection as it is less formal than Commander Taş has even been with him.
Releasing from her embrace, Osman asks “Commander… Dame.. I’m not sure what title to use? Both?”
“Dame is fine, Osman.” she closes the door and motions towards the living room. “I was just checking over the apartment to make sure it was ready for your arrival.”
“Is this your home? It is a lovely building.”
“My family owns several apartments on Allenby, this one was recently renovated and unoccupied for the moment. Come, sit. We’ll share some tea and catch up.”
Osman sets his bags down and joins Havva for tea. The two trade stories of their lives over the past couple of years. Finally Havva comes to the point of Osman’s visit.
There’s any number of methods to generate a Patron mission. For this one I’ll use Felbrigg Herriot’s Game Planner. It is a series of nested tables that you can roll on for as long as you like to generate a scenario.
- Table 1 - Type of Scenario: 1d6 5 Trade (6)
- Table 6 - Type of Trade: 1d6 3 Cargo (32)
- Table 32 - Cargo: 1d6 3 Industrial Gems (27)
At this point I have an idea.
Havva begins “I have a friend, a diplomat, they are trying to negotiate a deal with Danilov for a new type of starship glass. Danilov is being typically stubborn and protective of their industrial secrets but the diplomat would like to obtain a sample of the glass material so that our own scientists on Allenby may verify the properties it is claimed to have.”
“Danilov, that’s several parsecs from here.” notes Osamn
“The representatives from Danilov are on Allenby now and have a sample of the material with them. They’ve displayed it at meetings but will not let us get our hands on it. We need to borrow the sample, run the tests, and return it before they notice it is missing.”
“You know I’m more of a pilot than a thief?”
“I’m willing to trust you more than a common thief. The job pays Cr10000 and would help you establish your name outside of the Navy. Reputation, Mr. Celik is how you get to pick and choose your employers.”
Osman stands and walks over to a nearby window. Looking out over Old Gaepri he appreciated just how lucky he had been up until now. He pondered the job, thinking about the elements of risk and the rewards. Most likely the worse that could happen is that he is caught, disavowed by anyone connected, and then sent off to work in a Allenby Unified factory under a labor contract. The Taş family appeared to have weathered the storm of scandal and he knew that Havva had many connections. The type of work Havva could offer would pay far better and open many more doors.
“Are you in, Osman?”
“I’m your man, Dame.”
Captain Devika Verma 697A78 Gambling-2, Admin-1, Tactics-1, Rifle-1, SMG-1
“Excellent. I will set up a meeting with an associate of mine, Devika Verma. They will have all the details you need. If you need to contact someone for information or assistance, Devika will be your point person, Understood?
Osman understood Havva to mean she should not be contacted directly about corporate espionage. She had earned a position that allowed her to keep her good name clean.
“Now, put business out of your mind for the rest of the evening, dear Osman. You and I shall go out to dinner, my treat.”
I’m not sure I’ll go into this much real-time detail for every log entry… but I wanted to establish some descriptive and factual details for life on Allenby.
I’m remembering now that later versions of Traveller disentangles Rumors from Patrons. In the 1977 edition a Patron Encounter could lead to rolling a “Rumor” entry on the Patron table. In The Traveller Book (1982) the “Rumor” entries are removed from the Patron table and instead there is an entire weekly Rumor encounter system with it is own table.
I’m likely to pull the Rumor table into my game as I like the ocular nature of the Rumor table. For now I will keep the Rumors as-is (embedded into the Patron throw and tables) but if it seems like I am missing something from the Patron/Rumor experience it is possible I might pull in the weekly Rumor throw and swap out the ’77 Patron tables for those in the ’82 book as well.
At this point you might be asking… why not just use The Traveller Book? It is not a bad question but for now I’m going try to sticking to the rules in the 1977 books as much as I can.
Travelling the Lanes, Prologue
Osman Celik 999976, Age 18
Enlist Navy: 2d6+3 (str 7+, int 6+): [2, 2]+3 = 7. Failure to enlist.
Draft: 1d6: 1 Navy.
Osman Celik1 woke up and rubbed his eyes. Next to his bed on the nightstand was a pile of brochures. On the top of the stack one pamphlet loudly proclaimed in bold letters “Join the Merchant Marine Today!” Osman’s parents were hard working, respectable merchants and they had encouraged him to follow in their path.
Osman’s attention turned to the rejection letter from the naval branch of Allenby Unified’s Defense Services. His test scores hadn’t been good enough to secure a commission. Allenby’s navy service had no problem drafting him into service though.
Allenby Unified Core Worlds:
Birdwood 0103 C100455-9
Allenby 0104 B557455-B N
Pershing 0203 B479658-8 N
Allenby Unified Subsidiaries & Partner Worlds:
Quxeteor 0303 C995577-6
Xecebi 0304 D645332-6 S
Upon turning 18 Osman’s name had been entered into the military service draft as was customary for any citizen of the three core worlds of Allenby Unified. Allenby Unified was a giant corporation which maintained an extensive network of fuel refining operations across the five worlds, three of which Allenby owned outright (Allenby, Birdwood, and Pershing), an additional subsidiary world (Xecebi), and another which it had established a long-term contract with (Quxeteor). The region was largely of devoid of conflict, thanks in part to Allenby’s extensive defense services which patrolled the space lanes.
While the space lanes may have been mostly pirate free, growing up on the Allenby Unified world of Pershing was no cake-walk. Millions of people lived on a handful of small islands. Citizens of Pershing were forced to wear a mask to filter out the dangerous sulphuric airborne compounds from numerous active island volcanos. For most, the draft was a lifeline to a better life and a chance to climb the Allenby Unified corporate ladder.
Term 1: Navy Recruit, Age 22
- Survival 2d6+2 (int 7+): [6, 3]+2 = 11. Success.
- Commission. Not available (Draftee).
- Promotion. Not available (No commission).
- Skills (x2, initial term):
- Personal Development, 1d6:  +1 EDU
- Service Skills, 1d6:  Gun Combat, Automatic Pistol-1
- Reenlist, 2d6: [3, 3] = 6. Qualified.
Osman reported for duty on Pershing’s Orbital Naval Base (PONB) which had been built with the far-more advanced technologies from the nearby world of Allenby. A regime of basic training was required where Osman improved his overall education and acquired basic skill with the standard issue automatic pistol. Osman was assigned to Pershing’s orbital on-board security team. The most action Osman saw during these initial years was breaking up cafeteria disturbances and late-hour brawls that spilled out of what passed for entertainment on PONB.
At the age of 22 Osman had the option to continue his naval service. With no better job prospects, Osman signed the contract and renewed his term for another 4 years.
Term 2: Navy Seamen, Age 26
- Survival 2d6+2 (int 7+): [5, 4]+2 = 11. Success.
- Commission, 2d6: [5, 1] = 6. Failure.
- Promotion. Not available (No commission).
- Skills (x1):
- Advanced Education (8+), 1d6:  Computer-1
- Reenlist, 2d6: [5, 2] = 7. Qualified.
Osman was transfered to PONB’s starport operations division. There he acquired computer skills while performing data-entry duty for the various resupply and delivery ships that docked at PONB. Later he moved on to handling docking duties directly, helping ships navigate their arrival and departure from PONB.
Rabia Aslan 678666, Admin-2, Ship’s Boat-1 Auto Pistol-1 Forward Observer-1
At age 26 Osman signed another four-year contract. It was genuinely exciting to see the various starships come into port and to have the ability to steer them in on their final approaches. Osman’s superior, harbormaster Rabia Aslan, let it be known that he was a shoe-in for navigator duty on-board a starship if he returned.
Term 3: Navy Seamen, Age 30
- Survival 2d6+2 (int 7+): [5, 3]+2 = 10. Success.
- Commission, 2d6: [6, 6] = 12. Success! Rank-1, Ensign
- Promotion, 2d6+2: [2, 6]+2 = 10. Success. Rank-2, Lieutenant
- Skills (x3):
- Service Skills, 1d6:  Vacc Suit-1
- Advanced Education (8+), 1d6:  Navigation-1
- Advanced Education (8+), 1d6:  Pilot-1
- Reenlist, 2d6: [5, 2] = 7. Qualified
Dame Havva Taş B884BB, Ship’s Boat-2 Navigation-2 Computer-1 Medical-1 Vacc Suit-1 Pilot-1 Gunnery-1
Madison Ardron, A55686, Pilot-1 Jack-o-T-1 Computer-1 Electronic-1
After a brief stint as assistant harbormaster Osman was transfered to the Dependable Star, a type T patrol cruiser commanded by Dame Havva Taş. Most of the ships of the Allenby Unified navy are commanded by individuals from the corporation’s most elite families. First Osman worked as a maintenance hand and excelled at handling repairs, including an embarrassing incident where the Dependable’s pilot had botched their docking approach and caused quite a bit of damage to the ship and Pershing’s orbital facilities. Osman’s around-the-clock efforts and good connections with the Pershing docking staff allowed Dame Taş to save face. Osman was then promoted to navigator, assigned to shadow pilot Lt. Ardron. After some political maneuvering Dame Tas forced pilot Lt. Ardron into early retirement and Osman was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and given the helm of the Dependable Star.
Term 4: Navy Lieutenant, Age 34
- Survival 2d6+2: (int 7+): [3, 3]+2 = 8. Success.
- Promotion, 2d6+1: [5, 2]+1 = 8. Success. Rank-3, Lt Cmdr
- Skills (x2):
- Service Skills, 1d6:  Blade Combat, Cutlass-1
- Advanced Education (8+), 1d6: , Admin-1
- Reenlist, 2d6: [1, 2] = 3. DNQ.
- STR, 2d6: [5, 3] = 8. No effect
- DEX, 2d6: [2, 5] = 7. No effect
- END, 2d6: [6, 2] = 8. No effect
Osman took up sword fighting to stay in shape and gained some proficiency with the standard navy cutlass. At 32, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and became Dame Havva Taş’ right hand. Unfortunately for Osman he hitched his star to the wrong corporate family as the Taş family suffered a disgrace when the head of the family became deeply paranoid and had a violent breakdown at work. Taş was reassigned, the new Commander did not take a liking to Osman, and frequently ridiculed Osman’s work. When given his re-enlistment papers Osman noticed his commander had used their personal override to reject bringing Osman back for another term.
At age 34 it was time for Osman to take his skills somewhere else.
Mustering out: 4 terms, Rank 3. 6 rolls
1d6: 1 Low Passage (worth CR1000)
1d6:  TAS
1d6:  +2 SOC
1d6:  Blade, Cutlass
1d6: 1 1000
1d6:  5000
Osman Celik, Lt Cmdr 999988 Age 34
Navy (4 terms) Cr6000
Admin-1, Automatic Pistol-1, Computer-1, Cutlass-1, Navigation-1, Pilot-1, Vacc Suit-1, Weapons-0
Cutlass, Low Passage, TAS Membership
Traveller 1977: The Solitaire Campaign
While the idea of “solo roleplaying” has taken off in the COVID pandemic era, way back in the 1970s it was common practice to assume players might be playing their RPGs solo or without a GM. This is because RPGs had spun out of the wargaming tradition which already had a rich history of solitaire play and unrefereed games.
1977’s Traveller Book 01 Characters and Combat comes right out of the gate and states:
“We have tried to make these rules as complete as possible, with provisions for both solitaire and unsupervised play.”
And again in the next section “Playing the Game”:
“Traveller may be played in any of three basic configurations: solitaire, scenario, or campaign. Any configuration may be unsupervised (that is, played without a referee; the players themselves administer the rules and manipulate the situation).”
“The Solitaire Game: One player undertakes some journey or adventure alone. He handles the effects of the rules himself. Solitaire is ideal for the player who is alone due to situation or geography.”
It is worth nothing that Book 01 is clear that the preferred mode of play is with a referee.
The Solitaire Game
How does the solitaire player then play Traveller 1977? It is not immediately clear across Books 01-03 how this is to be accomplished. Many procedures are laid out but the solitaire player is not provided with a step-by-step checklist of play. While GDW would go on to produce a number of adventures and many included variations for groups and solitaire players (usually with an eye towards a referee and one player, or a “duet” game as we now commonly refer to it) there was never a “solitaire campaign” supplement.
There have been a number of independent effort to codify how to play Classic Traveller. In 1982, Steven Sowards wrote an article in Issue 13 of the Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society called “Real Time Traveller.”
“With some small adjustments, a satisfying solitaire Traveller campaign can be conducted on the basis of a few minutes each day, by playing the game in”real-time” terms.”
The article focuses on the challenges of playing a game on this time-scale and how one might spend the long stretches of time spent in jump space. Further it lays out what a 15-day cycle of life might look like for a Traveller character who is a crew member or passenger on a ship.
Published on Freelance Traveller in 2004, Dave Cooper’s Travelling Alone goes further by defining a system where the player rolls on a set of nested tables to generate different encounters, situations, and constraints their characters must deal with. Dave would update this system again in October 2021 for Issue 008 of the Cepheus Journal.
Andy Slack, in his series exploring Traveller 1977, documented a turn sequence laying out how PCs could play with and without a ship based on the procedures Books 01-03 themselves lay out.
In addition Paul Elliott has spent many words on how a solitaire player can find enjoyment with Traveller in three publishings. The 153 page solitaire roleplaying system SOLO by Zozer Games has oodles of random tables, roleplaying guidance, tips for managing a cast of characters on your own, and several different “mini-games” that tackle different areas of the Traveller experience such as mercenaries, traders, naval crew, or scouts. In 2021 Paul put out a free PDF titled Playing Solo Classic Traveller that takes some of his ideas from SOLO but reframes them in a “back to basics” Book 01-03 format of play. Most recently Paul put out HOSTILE: SOLO which expands on the ideas in SOLO but frames them around his custom “HOSTILE” setting - his own spin on the horror space movie genre of 1979’s Alien or 1981’s Outland.
My Ideal Solitaire Traveller Campaign
I’ve played many games of Paul Elliott’s SOLO, it is a rich and rewarding experience but I’m keen to stick to the original Books 01, 02, and 03 with inclusions from 1001 Characters, Animal Encounters, Citizens of The Imperium, and 76 Patrons brought in as needed.
Ideally I’m looking for something with a bit of the step-by-step sequence of play from Dave Cooper’s Travelling Alone and the straightforwardness of Andy Slack’s Traveller 1977 Turn Sequence. I like the idea of the “daily, real-time” scale from Steven Soward’s Real Time Traveller. Looking outside of the many words written about Traveller I will take inspiration from other sci-fi games such as Five Parsecs From Home, Farthest Star, or Two Hour Wargames’ 5150 New Beginnings which all have excellent repeatable solitaire campaign procedures.
I prefer having a structured game sequence to fallback on because I find sometimes the solitaire game can grind to a halt, unsure of what to do next. Knowing that I can always say “I’m in step 6 - so let’s just have a random encounter and see what happens” means there’s always a way to get the game engine moving again.
One of my goals is to closely read, experience, and play the original game’s rules as-is before expanding upon them. This is not out of stubbornness, I’ve played plenty of modern roleplaying games and enjoy them (prefer them even!) The original rules always captured my imagination but in previous games they were immediately house-ruled and expanded upoon without ever playing the game as-is. Book 04 Mercenary, Book 05 High Guard, and Book 07 Merchant Prince were layered on top without any care as to what effect it would have on the experience - we just knew we wanted “more.”
I’m curious to understand how the game feels when it is played with the original rules first. I’m also not interested in a strict “rules as written” approach either. Just because there is a detailed space combat system in Book 02 does not mean that one cannot use the simpler rules from the same book or those from Book 01’s “ship’s boat” skill throw guidance:
“Hostile attack can cripple or destroy a ship’s boat. Use the space combat system in Book 2, or this simplified system. (Throw 10+ to escape on contact and avoid attack. Throw 8+ to avoid being hit if escape fails. Alternate these throws until escape succeeds, or the craft is hit. DM: +1 per level of expertise on both rolls. Throw 5+ for craft to be crippled and boarded, 4– for craft to be destroyed. No DMs.”
Part of playing Classic Traveller is interpreting the procedures and guidance to develop your own game system as you play. I’ve always thought of Books 01-03 as a framework for creating a game rather than a specifically spelled out and unbending set of rules one must play by.
Traveller 1977: Expanded World Data (Axial Tilt, Average Temperature) and Random Weather Encounters
If you are a Classic Traveller referee and have just finished generating a subsector with the procedures from Book 03 Worlds and Adventures you might be eyeballing a world or two to develop more fully.
One of the first questions I asked myself was “what is the weather like on this world?” There is not a lot of referee guidance given on this subject, not until GDW’s Book 06 - Scouts. The procedures in Book 06 Scouts are extremely detailed and, at least for my tastes, produce an unnecessary amount of game prep I would not use.
What do I want as a referee for game play?
- Are there temperature conditions that we must account for?
- Are there swings in seasonal weather?
- Are there weather conditions that might impede play?
Finally, I’d like to have this extended world data encoded using the same 0-C digit system that is familiar for the rest of the world data.
Axial tilt tells us whether a planet has extreme variations in seasons.
|Digit||Axial Tilt &||Label|
Roll 2d6-7 + atmosphere
Note: Atmosphere’s 0 and 1 would have extremely different temperatures depending on the time of day.
If the axial tilt is none, then the temperature is consistent. If the axial tilt is slight then you can imagine that there are variations of one to two steps in either direction from the average. If the axial tilt is extreme then you have changes between three to six steps in either direction.
Random Weather Encounters
Planets possessing an atmosphere other than 0 (no atmosphere) have weather conditions.
Throw 1d6 on a 5 or 6 there is adverse weather. In cases of adverse weather, we can use a variation of the reaction throw to determine the severity of the weather event:
Apply the following DMs to the result:
Throw 2d6 - DMs:
10 is an intense, violent storm. 0 is a minor, short event. To determine how long the storm lasts in minutes, throw 2d6-2 and multiply the result by 5. You’ll have to factor in the temperature, seasonal effects, and other world data to determine if it is an “extreme” dust storm or a “minor” rain shower. If necessary you can use the severity of the weather to apply DMs to skill throws (in a range of -4 (extreme) to 0 (limited), where “limited” weather events may not directly effect skill throws but may still provide fictional constraints on actions.)
Inspiration for the random weather encounter procedures comes from Traveller’s own encounter procedures and Michael Brown’s Hazard: Storm! article in Freelance Traveller.
Traveller 1977 - Making a Subsector With Book 03
Traveller (1977 edition) describes how a referee may create a game play area known as a subsector in Book 03: Worlds and Adventures. It is generally done as an 8x10 hex-grid but, interestingly, Book 03 does not spell out the exact size of a subsector and leaves it up to the referee’s discretion (but does suggest use of the 8x10 hex grid paper form in the back of the book.) A subsector is just a slice of the universe your game will take place in and will provide more than enough adventure for months of game play.
I have my own software for generating subsectors quickly, but I honestly prefer to roll them up by hand if I can find the time, so we’ll take things step by step here and do it the old-fashioned way.
For each hex (or square, or however you choose to specify it) you roll a d6 and on a 4+ you generate a world. Much has been written about the 50% chance of world occurence: mostly that it seems like the published Traveller maps didn’t use this same formula and it does not seem to match scientifically available data about the likelihood of the frequency of planetary occurence. We’ll just stick to the defaults, 4+ is good enough for us. Now I am going to use a text editor and software-based dice roller to make my life slightly easier. We’ll test for world occurence all at once across each column filling out the map:
10d6: [2, 1, 6, 5, 2, 3, 3, 4, 1, 6] 0103 * 0104 * 0108 * 0110 * 10d6: [2, 2, 5, 2, 3, 2, 3, 3, 5, 2] 0203 * 0209 * 10d6: [2, 1, 5, 6, 6, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2] 0303 * 0304 * 0305 * 0306 * 10d6: [2, 1, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 6, 3, 1] 0404 * 0408 * 10d6: [2, 5, 4, 6, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4] 0502 * 0503 * 0504 * 0510 * 10d6: [4, 1, 3, 6, 3, 4, 2, 4, 5, 1] 0601 * 0604 * 0606 * 0608 * 0609 * 10d6: [1, 1, 5, 1, 2, 1, 6, 6, 3, 2] 0703 * 0708 * 0709 * 10d6: [3, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 5, 2, 5, 1] 0807 * 0809 *
For each occurence, I’ll generate a world name using my own random tables that are mishmash of three different world name generators. This gives me a mix of world name types and I like thinking that little clusters of worlds may have their own linguistic differences or similarities.
I then work through the checklist on page 12 of Book 03. There is an important 1977 errata correction for world generation: a world’s hydrographic percentage should be generated by rolling
size. Finally, in a weird bit of organizational structure, you have to jump back to the end of Book 02 to find the trade codes. If you are going to use Traveller Map to generate you subsector map image, you’ll find that their data checking tool complains about missing trade codes. Later Classic Traveller books (and Traveller game editions) created quite a few new trade codes. You’ll also find that Traveller 1977 has no concept of the population modifier, gas giant, asteroid belt numbers (PGB), “allegiance” codes, or amber zones either. There are plenty of resources out there you can use to generate these details if you want them (see: Cepheus Engine SRD - Worlds) without having to buy every Traveller supplement under the sun.
So I worked through the many rolls on the Star Mapping And World Creation Checklist and I generated the 26 Universal World Profiles (UWP) for my various systems.
I then reviewed each code and made some minor “referee’s discretion” alterations. For example Birdwood, Allenby, and Pershing use similar linguistic profiles for their names, had decent tech levels, connecting space lanes, and a general appearance of coordination - so I aligned the governments to create a little pocket empire. I thought about making changes to Beerxebi because they seem to have imposed military rule on Dagboryn but I wasn’t sure their tech level justified that. Then I observed that Isvear, Moltke, and Phin may have formed a manufacturing hub that produces starships that they then in turn sell to the neighboring systems.
Here are the resulting UWPs:
Birdwood 0103 C100455-9 Allenby 0104 B557455-B N Nivelle 0108 C566240-9 S Gohoth 0110 C67A302-6 Pershing 0203 B479658-8 N Rurlor 0209 B455846-8 Quxeteor 0303 C995577-6 Xecebi 0304 D645332-6 S Dagtis 0305 E400403-7 Dur 0306 B873168-9 N Potiorek 0404 B657311-C Dagboryn 0408 A754565-9 N Danilov 0502 A000423-G N Currie 0503 B677522-8 Cadorna 0504 C310126-8 Inbeis 0510 A366610-9 N Errurron 0601 E653134-6 Sarrail 0604 D130364-8 S Moltke 0606 CAB5979-B Meranryl 0608 X454678-3 Beerxebi 0609 A5455A6-9 Gough 0703 EAC6678-2 Phin 0708 B6759A9-9 N Isvear 0709 B663435-A N Omzel 0807 C842134-7 S Rut 0809 C477787-9
Also, the map that I have generated for use:
Next up, I need to do a little world building for at least one world and possible a few connecting worlds. My plan is to start the game with a single character on a world, ideally without a ship. Have some daily adventures with this character, re-familiarize myself with the rules, and work them up towards owning or working on a starship.
Longing to Play Classic Traveller (1977)
I have a few “first” sci-fi tabletop gaming loves: West End Games Star Wars, FASA’s Renegade Legion titles, Battletech, but I think the title that had the most influence on my approach to tabletop roleplaying was Classic Traveller.
Someone in my school gaming group had borrowed the 1977 Traveller box set from their dad. At the time we were regularly playing Toon and West End Games Star Wars. Traveller was pretty different from both of these and I know initially we were scratching our heads as to exactly how to approach it. Eventually it all fell into place; odd jobs in bizarre places for unique characters drove adventure. We found the starship rules complicated and largely ignored them. I don’t think anyone really batted at eye at the wide range of weapons across the different tech levels. I remember one player really loved character creation because they always felt compelled to derive these amazing backstories for characters in other games but in Traveller the backstory just kinda made itself as you went through your terms of service.
Lately I’ve been playing a lot of solitaire Starforged. It is a fun game and a vast improvement over Ironsworn (in my mind.) There have been times where I felt compelled to play into the bigger storylines and dive deeper into drama when some days I just wanted to play something a bit more… random…? grounded…? maybe even seemingly boring (“slice of life”) events that turn into a big problem. I think this type of play is possible in Starforged but it requires a lot more intention and care to pull off. Traveller on the other, you could totally play a character on a single planet, roaming the starport, keeping their ear to the ground, picking up an odd job or two along the way.
Traveller also just has some fun quirks. The 1977 version in particular has this seemingly goofy table of weapon, range, and armor modifiers to parse for combat but it turns into a delightful mini game of trying to setup an ambush to minimize your risk.
There’s also so many areas in Traveller where you can turn random rolls into stories. Book 02: Starships (1977) has this tidy way of rolling up the available lots of cargo that, just like character creation, you are staring at the dice rolls and stories just start to pour out of your brain about why one load of cargo is only 5 tons and the other is 30.
I’ll fully admit that Cepheus Deluxe is a much more nicely formatted book and probably quicker to play in some cases but there’s also some solitare fun to be had in losing yourself in trying to parse the intent behind the procedures in 1977 Traveller. Many of the sections outlining how to play barely have actual rules, but more like guidance as to how to use the many 2d6-based stats that Traveller gives you. Suddenly it all starts to click - you can roll over or under just about any Traveller stat - whether that’s a PC’s characteristic or a world’s population number. You can quickly eyeball stats and decide they might be worth a +/- 1 DM to a related roll. It is a freeform system but there’s plenty of structure to make sense of how to make it consistent for your tastes.
So here am, flipping through the musty pages of my own early printing of 1977 Traveller, and thinking “this is what I want to play right now.”
Episode 1, Breach
Before we begin the episode actual play recap in earnest it is worth noting that there will be violence in the form of simulated war battles in this and many other episodes. I’ll try to keep things “PG-13” as best as possible. I’m not really into gore or horror so I wouldn’t expect those things to pop up much. I’ll try to note any other sensitive topics in future episodes.
As I have been very detailed in logging exactly how I played my Starforged session this is a fairly long recap to read. Tl;dr Space marines in powered armor are cool. I hope you enjoy it.
And now, on with the show:
We start the game with the Begin the Session move:
[1d100 | 67] “Key location is made unsafe or becomes mired in conflict”
Key location roll: 1) Eratis 2) Ersoarle 3) Esarer 4) Burnell 5) Fuller 6) Orgear:
[1d6 | 5] “Burnell”
Unsafe or conflict could be anything, turning to the Action & Theme Oracles: “Manipulate, Faction”
My interpretation of these details is that the Union of Elder Navigators is on strike, holding out for a better deal after rounds of intense contract negotiations with representatives from the United Planets.
Ask the Oracle: Does the Sovereign Empire see this as an opportunity to attack the United Planets at Burnell?
[1d100, Odds 50/50 | 11] “Yes, with a match”
An extreme result! So, we are dropped into the middle of an intense battle to prevent the Sovereign Empire’s Marine drop ships from boarding Burnell Station.
Ash Hobbs checked over their power armor’s data readouts one last time then slid a helmet over their head. The Stazka-class boarding shuttle rattled slightly as it was hastily deployed from the belly of a Sovereign Empire carrier.
Ask the Oracle: Would the Sovereign Empire military have regularly run training simulations for taking over Burnell Station?
[1d110, Odds Almost Certain | 4] “Yes”
Assessing the state of those around them, Ash put their mind at ease - they had trained for this scenario dozens of times. The shuttle pilot would try to access one of Burnell’s standard docking bays. If that flight path was denied to them then they could either access an external maintenance airlock or use the shuttle’s plasma cutter feature. The cutters, mounted around the shuttle’s airlock, make a hole in another vessel’s hull. Then the shuttle’s airlock makes a temporary seal around the exposed hole. The whole process takes around two minutes.
The shuttle’s speaker system broke Ash’s mental preparations “Shuttle Tesia, this is CVA Barbara Actual. Transferring navigation control.”
Well, as usual, I’m bending systems to do non-standard things. I’ll use Ask the Oracle as a fallback mechanic when I’m not sure of a suitable move to keep things moving. In this case I’m flying in a vehicle that’s not my “Command Vehicle.” Reading over the various moves I think Set a Course makes the most sense here: When you follow a known route through perilous space, across hazardous terrain, or within a mysterious site, roll +supply.
Set a Course
[1d6 +supply vs 2d10 | 1+5 = 6 vs 10, 3] “Weak Hit: you arrive, but face a cost or complication”
I’m given a choice here between making a suffer move or facing a complication. Let’s take a complication and we’ll just use Pay the Price to figure out what it is:
Pay the Price:
[1d100 | 25] “You are separated from something or someone”
The shuttle rocks and then starts to spin. Several marines grip the harnesses holding them in their seats. As the shuttle begins to stablize a voice from the cockpit calls back to the shuttle’s hold “Sergeants, we’ve been separated from the other drop ships! I’m picking an alternate landing site now.” Thankfully the lack of windows in the hold would make it impossible for Ash to second guess the pilot’s decision making.
Ask the Oracle: “Can the shuttle pilot find a maintenance airlock dock?”
[1d100, Odds Unlikely | 90] “No”
Ask the Oracle: “Can the shuttle pilot find a external surface to use their breaching system?”
[1d100, Odds 50/50 | 27] “Yes”
“Prepare for breaching procedures.” said the pilot. Ash could hear the shuttle’s positioning thrusters fire in a few short bursts and then the interior lights dimmed to a dull red.
Ask the Oracle: “Is the shuttle able to make the self-sealing airlock without being attacked/interrupted?”
[1d100, Odds Unlikely | 26] “No”
A 26 is nearly a Yes. Perhaps the breaching hole was made but the airlock didn’t have time to self-seal
“GET READY!” yelled the pilot but before the confirmation came the shuttle was rocked with a series of bullets.
Face Danger: “reacting to an imminent threat with resolve, command, or sociability”
[1d6 +heart vs 2d10 | 5+3 = 8 vs 2, 3] “Strong hit: Take +1 momentum.”
How many of Ash’s five-man fire team survive the attack?
[1d4 | 3]
How many members of the other fire team survive the attack?
[1d4+1 | 3]
Ask the Oracle: “Did the shuttle pilot survive?”
[1d100, Odds Unlikely | 12] “Yes”
Ask the Oracle: “Did the other fire team Sergeant survive?”
[1d100, Odds 50/50 | 66] “No”
The hull-breach klaxon sounded and Ash unstrapped. Taking stock of the hold they identified 1 causality from their squad. Looking across the room they realized Sergeant Pavlicek was a goner as well as another member of Pavlicek’s team. Ash walked over and got into the face of a marine who looked frozen “Time to unstrap, let’s move.”
“Where are we moving to exactly, Sergeant?” said another Marine.
Ash pointed at the exposed hole in Burnell Station’s hull. “There, son. We’ll use our armor’s thrusters to gain access to the station through that hole before they realize we’re still up in here.”
“Regi?” called out Ash as they corralled their newly organized fire-team.
A haggard face in a vacc-suit appeared from the cockpit. “I’m still here Sarge.”
“You’re with us now. Take Pavlicek’s sidearm. Private Irca you will assist Regi here in crossing over.”
Ash was first out and led the team in the manuever to access the station.
Face Danger: “attempt something risky with speed, mobility, or agility:”
[1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 4+3 = 7 vs 3, 10] “Weak hit: Make a suffer move (-1)”
Ash will suffer -1 Supply which I think aptly represents them using the suits fuel reserves to make the ship-to-station transfer, probably with extra course-corrections.
Ash fired the thrusters on their suit trying to stay inline with station as the shuttle was starting to accelerate its own spin. As it became clear it was doable, Ash turned and motioned to the rest of the team to follow.
Ask the Oracle: Does the marine helping the pilot execute the maneuver correctly? [1d100, Odds Likely | 82] “No”
Why not? Action + Theme Oracles: “Challenge, Ability”
The grav boots engaged with a surface of Burnell Station and Ash worked to get the rest of team out of the line of fire. Ash then watched in horror as Private Irca fumbled their way through the manuever and lost hold of Captain Regi.
“Irca, here - now. I’ll get her.” said Ash as they unlocked their grav boots and tried to angle their jump to retrieve Regi.
Face Danger: “attempt something risky with speed, mobility, or agility:”
[1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 4+3 = 7 vs 5, 4] “Strong hit: Take +1 momentum.”
“Gotcha!” snapped Ash.
“Oh my, oh my, oh my.”
“Calm down, Regi. Let’s get back.”
Here we will use the Derelict rules and oracles to explore Burnell station. If you ignore the Outer/Inner First Look tables I think you’ll find that “Derelicts” don’t have rundown, abandoned locations - they can be any old physical location you need randomly generated.
So where are we on Burnell Station? We’re on an Orbital Settlement so we’ll use the Derelict Zone Oracles.
- Zone: [1d100, Settlement | 77] Production
- Area: [1d100 | 1] Staging area
- Feature: [1d100 | 83] Written manifest
Once everyone was secured into the breach, Ash moved forward trying to figure out where they were while punching the open comms channel button on their suit.
“Barbara Actual, this is Sergeant Hobbs. We have lost Shuttle Tesia, Sergeant Pavlicek, and two members of our boarding teams. We were able to breach the station hull and are in what looks like…”
Looking around Ash took stock of the items and watched a datapad marked
Loyal Star Manifest float by them. A sign on the wall had the words
"WATER PURFICATION CONTROL" and an arrow pointing to the right.
“… we are near water purification. Will proceed to central operations as originally planned. Please relay status of other boarding teams. over.”
Ash, again, paused to assess the situation. Racking their brain for the installation map Ash believed they need to move up at least two more levels before they could access operations.
“Regi you are with me. Roland, we’re a larger group now so you are my second and you’ll take responsibility for coordinating the members of your team if we need to split up.”
How many other boarding teams were there? Let’s do some armchair calculations. Burnell Station has roughly a population of 5000. I read once that NATO uses a formula of one soldier for 40 inhabitants. Each team is broken into 5-man teams.
(5000/40 = 125)/5 = 25teams in roughly 13 shuttles. Round that up to 15 shuttles for extra bits. I don’t have a real 15 sided die but I do have a computer that can generate any sided die it wants.
How many shuttles were lost trying to board the Burnell?
[1d15 | 2] 2 shuttles lost.
We’ll consider the Teisa separate from that total so let’s say 4 teams were lost in the transit. Mostly this is useful for understanding the fictional position of how well the assault is going.
“Tesia Team, 2 other shuttles lost in boarding assault. There are 19 other teams engaged. Approved to proceed with planned approach. Good hunting, over.”
Now I believe we need to Undertake an Expedition. We’ll give it a name of “Reach Burnell Station Operations Command” and a rank of Dangerous.
When you undertake an expedition you have three approaches to consider: with speed, stealth, or caution. Speed might have made sense if many more teams were lost. Caution doesn’t make much sense, so I think stealth is probably the way to go.
Undertake an Expedition with stealth
[1d6 +shadow vs 2d10 | 5+2 = 7 vs 10, 6] “Weak hit: Mark progress and face a peril at the waypoint.”
(I could’ve chosen to make a suffer move, decided to see what perils their might be instead)
Derelict Production Zone Peril Oracle
[1d100 | 12] Dangerous machinery Descriptor + Focus Oracles: “Obscured, Energy”
The combined teams work to find the access point to the next level in the zero-g environment of the breached hull. A fallen electrical wire got Ash’s attention. It was blocking the way to…
Derelict Production Zone Area
[1d100 | 86] New zone via Access
Derelict Access Zone Area
[1d100 | 84] Vertical 1) shaft or 2) ladder
[1d2 | 2] Ladder
…Ash leaned around and shined their helmet light upwards…bingo.
“There’s a vertical ladder here, we can use this to access the next level but there’s a potential live wire blocking the way.”
I don’t think the powered armor suits are rated for this sorta thing but perhaps the pilot who would have to do ship maintenance can help?
Ask the Oracle: Does the pilot have gloves that are electrician rated? [1d100 Odds, 50/50 | 44] “Yes”
Regi held up her thick gloves “I can handle that.”
We don’t really stat up anyone but the main PC in Starforged so I think we have to keep relying on Ask the Oracle here.
Ask the Oracle: Does Regi move the wire safely out of the way? [1d100 Odds, Likely | 65] “Yes”
Undertake an Expedition with stealth
[1d6 +shadow vs 2d10 | 5+2 = 7 vs 8, 3] “Weak hit: Mark progress and face a peril at the waypoint.”
Ash leads the way up the vertical ladder as they get closer to the top they can…
- Derelict Zone: [1d100, Settlement | 73] Operations
- Operations Area: [1d100 | 1] Comms center
- Feature: [1d100 | 83] Intricate control panels
Ask the Oracle: Is the comms center occupied?
[1d100 Odds, Almost Certain | 44] “Yes, with a match”
… hears the electronic sounds of communications being sent and received. There are panicked orders being shouted over to several different recipients at a time. Ash thinks for a moment and then turns motions down to the team with a series of hand signals.
Check your Gear: “check to see if you have a specific helpful item”
[1d6 +supply vs 2d10 | 4+4 = 8 vs 3, 1] “Strong hit: you have it, and are ready to act. Take +1 momentum.”
After a moment a small electronic device is passed up to Ash. Knowing that their fusion-powered powered armor will survive the impacts, Ash holds on to the ladder with one hand and uses a free hand to configure the device to trigger a room-scale EMP.
Secure an Advantage: “when you attempt to gain leverage”
[1d6 +wits vs 2d10 | 3+2 = 5 vs 3, 8] “Weak hit: (choose one) +1 on your next move”
Ash hit the button and watched the comms room spark, flash, and go dark. The sounds of a lot of groaning followed. Instead of panicked comms there were audible shouts to check panels and investigate how many other area had lost power. Ash decided it was now or never to attempt to secure this location. Ash would sink a few bullets into the grate above their head and then use their thrusters to shoot up and into the room, hoping to take the area by surprise.
Face Danger: “attempt something risky with strength, endurance, or aggressiom”
[1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 6+4 = 10 vs 7, 9] “Strong hit: Take +1 momentum.”
Ash again signaled to the team what Ash hoped to accomplish but there aren’t really official hand signals for “I’m going to blow off this grated horizontal door and take a crowded room by surprise.” Still Ash managed to convey that there were a number of potential hostiles and that a room breach was about to happen. The sound of the bullets coming from beneath probably caught several folks by surprise but the sight of an Sovereign Empire Marine in power armor shooting through an opening in the floor managed to handle the rest of the room.
Ask the Oracle: Are there armed United Planets military in this room? [1d100, Odds Likely | 27] “Yes”
There’s no real “combat encounter generator” in Starforged but Ironsworn did had a handy Challenge Rank Oracle in the old Lodestar companion book.
Challenge Rank Oracle
[1d100 | 12] Rank, Troublesome. Foe Quality, “Common”.
So now we can Enter the Fray to secure this room.
Ash can use their Weapon Master Path ability to add +1 when they Enter the Fray.
Enter the Fray: “when you initiate combat on the move:” [1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 5+3+1 = 9 vs 9, 2] “Weak hit: (choose one) You are in control.”
On a hit, Weapon Master also allows Ash to take +1 momentum.
Ash assessed the situation. A lot folks hiding under desks and a pair of station guards attempting to get into firing position. Ash fired their thrusters to manuever herself with themselves back against a wall to prevent any flanking actions.
Gain Ground: “when you are in control and take action in a fight to reinforce your position” [1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 3+3 = 6 vs 10, 9] “Miss: your foe gains the upper hand. Pay the Price”
Pay the Price:
[1d100 | 92] “You are delayed or put at a disadvantage”
Suddenly an office chair came flying at them. Ash was forced down to the ground and back to nearly their original position in the middle of the room. Ash needed to stablize things so more of their team could exploit this area but before they could figure out a plan, the guards return fire.
Ash will use their Armoed Path Asset ability here. It allows them to set the Action Dice to a 4 and put their trust in the armor strength.
React under Fire: “when you are in a bad spot and avoid danger by blocking with force” [1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 4+4 = 8 vs 4, 6] “Strong hit: you are in control. Take +1 momentum.”
Bullets flew at Ash but the powered armor shrugged them off. Ash opened fire on one of the guards.
Strike: “when you are in control and attack at a distance” [1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 3+3 = 6 vs 9, 5] “Weak hit: mark progress twice, but you expose yourself to danger. You are in a bad spot.”
Ask the Oracle: Does the next attack come at range or at close quarters? (yes, range, no close quarters) [1d100, Odds 50/50 | 74] Close range Descriptor + Focus Oracle “Breach, Vengeance”
Ash suddenly felt something pulling… or at least tugging.. at their boot. One of the comms center staff, apparently enraged at Ash for blowing away a guard, was trying to pull Ash down. It was almost comical but Ash moved to dislodge the assailant with a powered kick.
React under Fire: “when you are in a bad spot and avoid danger by diverting with force” [1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 2+4 = 6 vs 6, 6] “Miss, with a match”
Wow, and with a match too! Now, Ash has built up 8 momentum and I think they’ll burn it here to set the Action Score to an 8. Now it is a Strong Hit with a match - though I’ll think we’ll tone done the extreme options given our choice to burn momentum.
Burn Momentum +8 [1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 8 vs 6, 6] “Strong hit, with a match. in control. Take +1 momentum”
Ash wondered if the employee could hear the leg motors powering up. Regardless Ash gave them the leg a good kick and the employee went flying across the room and knocked over the other guard. Ash open their comms. “Time to join the party.”
Gain Ground: “when you are in control and take action in a fight to reinforce your position by coordinating a plan” [1d6 +wits vs 2d10 | 5+2 = 7 vs 3, 10] “Weak hit: stay in control. (choose one) mark progress”
This takes the progress track to 10. So let’s finish this thing off.
Take Decisive Action “when you seize an objective in a fight…” [10 vs 2d10 | 10 vs 5, 4] “Strong hit: Take +1 momentum.”
Several marines joined the action in the comms room and at that point resistance ended.
Check your Gear: “check to see if you have a specific helpful item”
[1d6 +supply vs 2d10 | 3+4 = 7 vs 9, 1] “Weak hit: you have it. (choose one) -1 supply.”
“Let’s secure this folks, we don’t need any runners.”
Ash produced a pair of restraints and secured the remaining guard, they might be useful later if Ash needed intel. While the comms room was a wreck, Ash used their own comm to notify command the the Comms Center was disabled and secured. Ash lowered themselves to be eye-to-eye with one of the restrained employees.
Oh, it occurs to me because we’ve “overcome a critical obstacle” we can mark progress on our Expedition track. That brings us to a total of 6 progress.
“What’s off this area?” asked Ash. To entice the employee, Ash waved their heavily armed arms around as a gesture of “Hey, why do you ponder the amount of firepower in my suit.”
Compel: “when you try to persuade someone with threats”
[1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 5+4 = 9 vs 4, 8] “Strong hit: they’ll do what you want. Take +1 momentum.”
Ask the Oracle: How many areas can be access from the Comms Center? Yes, 1. No 2. [1d100, Odds 50/50 | 55] 2.
- Operations area: [1d100 | 11] armory
- Operations area: [1d100 | 50] briefing room
Stammering the employee answered promptly. “The armory for this floor is that way and there’s a briefing room for coordinating station comms with the CO over there.”
Ash considered these details. If the armory was still stocked it would be wise to prevent access to it. The briefing room sounded important and implied it was closer to the command center for the operations floor. Ash decided to send one team of 2 with Roland in charge to secure the armory. Ash would take the remaining three members and Regi towards the briefing room.
Ask the Oracle: Have other teams made their way to operations floor?
[1d100, Odds 50/50 | 32] “Yes”
Have many teams are still active?
[1d19 | 16] (4 teams lost)
How many teams are on the operations level? Let’s say of the 16, half of this could be headed this way. [1d8 | 6]
Where are those teams located?
- Operations area: [1d100 | 2] Command offices
- Operations area: [1d100 | 71] Lounge
- Operations area: [1d100 | 74] Security area
- Operations area: [1d100 | 74] Security area
- Operations area: [1d100 | 93] Access area
- Operations area: [1d100 | 99] Access area
Ash relayed their plan to command and asked on the status of the other teams near them.
“Hobbs there are two teams engaged in firefights trying to access the operations level. Two other teams are engaged with security forces. One team has breached the command offices… and uh…” at this point the briefer sounded almost sheepish. “one team is in the operations lounge. over.”
“The… lounge?!” wondered Hobbs over comms.
Ash shook their head.
“Who’s running the team near the command suite?”
“That would be Lieutenant Tonicka’s team.”
It would advantageous if Ash could link up with Tonicka’s team who specialized in security infiltration. Ash’s team could provide fire support while they cracked whatever codes needed to be cracked.
Undertake an Expedition with speed
[1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 4+3 = 7 vs 9, 9] “Miss, with a match. Do not mark progress, and Pay the Price.”
Given the match I figured it as worth rolling twice:
- Pay the Price [1d100 | 60] Your equipment or vehicle malfunctions
- Pay the Price [1d100 | 81] You are harmed
- Descriptor + Focus Oracle “Abandoned, Debris”
Ash decided to pickup the pace and made their way through to the briefing room. Ash’s time in this room was brief because it felt like the entire station shook and the entry way collapsed on them.
Endure Harm: “when you face physical injury, suffer (choose) -2 for serious harm”
“If you choose to resist the harm, roll +health or +iron, whichever is higher.”
[1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 3+4 = 7 vs 3, 1] “Strong hit: shake it off - if you are not wounded, take +1 health”
The armor strained against the weight of the frame that pinned them down but Ash managed to push themselves back up to standing with the help of the others who had not so boldly rushed into the briefing room.
What caused the entry way to collapse?
Action + Theme Oracles “Focus, Power”
“Anyone see what set that off?”
“Over comms I heard someone say a stray starship railgun volley hit the station.”
Ash shook their head “Flyboys.”
Regi raised an eyebrow “Uh, gunners more like it, no?”
“Fair enough.” Ash re-entered the briefing room, more cautiously this time.
Undertake an Expedition with vigilance
[1d6 +wits vs 2d10 | 4+2 = 6 vs 2, 8] “Weak hit. (choose one) make two suffer moves (-1).”
- Sacrifice Resources -1 supply
- Endure Stress -1 Stress
Ash suit gave them a lower power warning. Ash was second guessing themselves now, maybe the armory would’ve had a place to refuel this thing.
Where to next?
- Derelict Operations Area: [1d100 | 5] command offices
Ask the Oracle: Is Lieutenant Tonicka’s team here? [1d100, Odds Likely | 60] “Yes”
Ash entered a corridor and could see another Empire Marine team at the end of the hallway. Ash flipped on near-band comms “Tonicka? This is Sergeant Hobbs, we are closing in on the command offices. over.”
Ask the Oracle: Have Burnell Station Command barricade themselves into the offices? [1d100, Odds Likely | 88] “No, with a match”
Tonicka, a flashy & scruffy looking man, appeared in the corridor. “Hobbs, nice to see you. Regi…? Where’s Pavlicek?”
“Our shuttle was attacked on the breach approach. Pavlicek didn’t make it, sir.”
Finish an Expedition “when your expedition comes to an end” [8 vs 2d10 | 8 vs 3, 5] “Strong hit”
Tonicka looked furious. “We’ve secured the command floor. Looks like the Burnell’s CO & core officers managed to flee by a shuttle.”
“Damn.” said Hobbs.
Wonder what Regi is up to?
Character Disposition Oracle: Indifferent
Regi wandered around the room “So we didn’t get the commanders but we have the station under control anyways, right?”
Ask the Oracle: Have the Empire’s boarding teams secured the station? [1d100, Odds Likely | 41] “Yes”
“Yes, we have.” responded Tonicka. “Just a few minor mop up operations…”
Ask the Oracle: Have the Empire’s naval forces secured the area around the station? [1d100, Odds 50/50 | 13] “Yes”
“… and naval forces have driven away the UPN fleet that was stationed here.”
Ask the Oracle: Did Roland’s team suffer any casualties? [1d100, Odds 50/50 | 60] “No”
Ash checked in with Roland who confirmed they had secured the armory. Then they unlocked their helmet and lifted it off. Ash walked towards the window that looked out into space and focused on a few of the nearby asteroids. Marines Pavlicek, Leos, and Linda hadn’t even made it off the shuttle. Ash paused to remember their faces and say a silent prayer for them. Regi joined Ash by their side and gripped their armored hand.
Hearten: “when you find a moment of peace…” [1d6 +heart vs 2d10 | 5+3 = 8 vs 6, 2] “Strong hit: you find comfort and your spirit is strengthened. Otherwise, take +2 spirit.”
Pretty much everything is in the play log so I don’t have a lot to add. It is a nice worked example of a number of Starforged concepts and mechanics.
After I created the setting, I thought about where it would be interesting to have a character. I decided that either a navigator or an grunt in the Empire would be interesting. I rolled a d6 (“high/low) and the result was a grunt. From there I used a few random tables (I did go outside of Starforged here) to work out what type of grunt it was. One of the random table results suggested my character was known for their”high tech armor.” I don’t normally play the strong warrior types but this was an interesting change of pace. Oh and if it threw you off, yes Ash is using they/them pronouns. This is not a woke liberal agenda, I made a roll table and picked randomly.
Ash’s super cool portrait photo came from a set of sci-fi character portraits I had lying around.
I do think a navigator would’ve been really fascinating and I’m still hoping to “play to find out” what it means to be a member of the Union of Elder Navigators. Are they psionic? Just really well attuned to navigation? Augmented? I have no idea.
I have not created a background vow yet or made our first “connection” (the rules totally allow this) and I think I’d rather it emerge through some play first.
The following is world building prep-work that was done for an upcoming Starforged campaign. Following the advice in the Solo Game Master’s Guide section “10 ways to start your session that aren’t character creation” I chose option 4. “Create a political or history of a place.” This led me to start with creating the game’s primary sector first, work out the major factions, and think about what the greatest points of conflict were within sector. The sector was built primarily with Starforged Oracles but names were generated using my own custom world name generator. Eventually I plan to incorporate some Oracle content from Pocket Empires and Mongoose Traveller Supplement 12: Dynasty.
Here is the current widely known information about the Ceras Sector, more details will be added as they are generated through play:
Eratis is the heart of the of Ceras sector and the capital system of the United Planets, the major political entity in Ceras. The sector is named after the glowing orange star that helped make Eratis a garden world. When a respected prophet foresaw the destruction of Eratis the planet united into a goal of space exploration. That was almost 300 years ago and belief in the prophecy has waned but there are some who still truly believe Eratis is doomed.
As the exploration effort initially failed to find other vital worlds, the plans turned to establishing forward bases to expand and extend the operations. Planets or asteroids rich in the necessary metals to build starships were prioritized.
There are 21 hours in a day on Eratis and 167 days in a year. The calendar date is presently kept as years since the first exploration rocket launch. The current year for most citizens of the United Planets is 320 AE.
The first system explorers found suitable to setup a permanent base of operations was an uninhabited rocky world with a thin atmosphere. The planet had a significant amount of mineral deposits within its extensive mountain ranges.
There are 28 hours in a day on Ersoarle and 315 days in a year. Most citizens on Ersoarle keep time in accordance with the United Planets primary calendar system though.
As the mining operations returned promising results and enabled advanced starship technologies, the exploration plans grew bolder. When the exploration service found the ice world of Esarer orbiting a burning yellow star within the habitable zone, the thought was that perhaps it could be terraformed into a vital world. Those operations are still ongoing today but an uprising on Esarer led to the formation of the Sovereign Empire. The corporation entrusted with the terraforming operation instead mined numerous asteroids extending out from the nearby Tesile Asteroid Field. They converted these resources not into terraforming assets but warships which they used to secure the populace and their hold around the Esarer System. 166 years after the citizens of Eratis set out to explore the known galaxy, they had lost their first system.
There are 19 hours in a day on Eratis and 375 days in a year. Esarer’s calendar year is currently 154.
United Planets currently operates one naval forward base station and is constructing a second one. Another station is independently operated by the Union of Elder Navigators. The Sovereign Empire maintains 100s of early warning sensor posts along the Empire’s border with the United Planets but these rigs are not space stations in the traditional sense.
The Burnell station, near the Teisle Asteroid Field, was originally designed as a layover point between Eratis & Esarer. It was hoped this would generate fruitful commerce between the two systems. Now it is the forward Naval operations base as well as supporting nearby asteroid mining.
A second planned station, Fuller, is under construction. Originally it was hoped that Fuller would help extend exploration operations and provide a resupply point between Esarer and Ersoarle. Plans have shifted to providing Naval support, though factions within the United Planets still desire to expand & extend the exploration opportunities.
Orgear is the home and training hub for the Union of Elder Navigators (UEN). While the station does manage some trade and offer fuel and supplies, it is mainly concerned with educating the next generation of starship navigators. Almost all United Planet starships have a UEN navigator on board and while the Sovereign Empire has taken on developing their own navigators the training methods are based on those brought over from Union members who stayed loyal to the Empire.
I Feel the Earth Move
Cas looked up at Draav and back to the entry room. “You know this means someone has already beaten us here, right? Sentinels don’t use protective laser grids.”
“The Galactic Council requires that all Sentinel sites are cataloged. Did you happen to mention to your client that failure to report a Sentinel site is in violation of Galactic Decree 47?” asked Draav.
Cas turned around and walked into the entry room. “I didn’t know what they found until I got here.”
Draav motioned to his team to secure Cas. “If you wanted to keep exploring Sentinel sites, why did you leave the Service?”
Cas looks around the entry room. Nothing extremely out of the ordinary, although the architectural features in this room are grander than usual.
“I was not here looking for a site - I’m looking for a group of people employed by the Namiko Mining Corp. You didn’t happen to run into a group of three humans?”
By now the two members of the Xenohistory Service brandishing lethal weapons at Cas have made it clear that they would like his journey into the site to end here.
“Draav, I am going to need to confirm that the missing people are not in here. It is possible these folks are in over their head — part of being in the Service is to protect these sites and to protect people from them.”
Draav considers and motions to the two Service members to lower their weapons. “No games, Cas.”
The group proceeds deeper into the site. Cas notices many decorations and glyphs that imply that this site had some navigational importance to the Sentinels. Upon entering a large circular room, Cas notices a central Sentinel computer terminal installation. Draav’s team eagerly moves to document the panels and interfaces which are covered in glyphs. Cas walks over to the console and before anyone can stop him he presses a large metal button. A voice reverberates throughout the room. Mutating and changing through different vocal patterns before finally settling on the language shared by Cas and everyone else in the room. A hologram of a face glitches into view. Cas feels an odd source of energy humming through his own body.
“What is your question?” says a calm, soft voice.
Cas turns to Draav and raises an eyebrow. No one has ever seen an image of a Sentinel before. The head is elongated with a pair of eyes extended out to the sides from the lower half. There is a mouth. It looks somewhat amphibian.
“Where can I get a cup of coffee around here?” jokes Cas.
“I cannot say.” the voice replies.
Cas throws up his hands, while Draav shakes his head. “Boyd, take a crack at this please.”
Boyd is a tall, wiry human with long fingers. Boyd pulls out a scanner and runs it over the console. Cas already knows that the scanner output will be useless. Boyd then walks up to the hologram and asks “What is the purpose of this facility?”
“Access denied. Subject does not match the profile.”
Everyone turns and looks at each other as if it trying to figure out who should fit the profile. The mental evaluations end when another voice breaks the silence.
“You are wasting your time, boys.”
Cas notes that yet another person taller than him has joined the entourage. This one has long reddish blonde hair and a sharp chin. Tightly manicured eyebrows wrap around their wide, determined eyes. On their suit is a name-badge reading “Karin” and in their hand is a military grade assault rifle. Two more people in matching suits fill in behind them.
“Tie up the Service folks, Olumide but leave that one to me” orders missing research team lead Natascha Karin while the other research team member holds up a very lethal looking carbine at the group.
“This is possibly the easiest the missing person case I’ve worked yet. Normally you don’t come to me.” joked Cas.
“Turns out you are the missing person, Cas. Only you can unlock this thing.”
“I’m not sure I follow, …Ms? … Karin?” Cas has long since learned to not assume anyone’s gender … or well anything at this point in galactic history.
“Go ahead, ask the machine to ‘turn on the beacon’.”
Draav struggles against his restraints. “What is the meaning of all this? Who are you?”
Natascha walks over to Draav. She runs a finger under his chin and then up over his scar. “I’m the one who is two steps ahead of you.” Natascha grips Draav’s head and pulls it towards one of her knees leaving a light trail of blood dripping from Draav’s nose.
A bemused Cas watches the scene unfold and he wonders if helping Natascha squarely puts him in “the baddies” group. At least the Namiko logo isn’t a skull. Approaching the hologram, Cas asks “I wonder if you could turn on the beacon?”
It only takes a second for a series of events to happen. A series of ceilings above each other open up and large rod extends from the ground into the sky through the opening. A purple light shoots up the rod and from the rod it extends out. Cas thinks that the light may be extending not outwards into space but instead across the planet’s surface.
Natascha approaches Cas and pulls out a dark black obelisk from a saddle bag. It is not uniformly shaped but flat and features several sharply cut angles.
“Yeah, I’ve seen what happened to your buddy Trorank and I want no part of that.”
“Dr. Trorank was consumed by his curiosity. You on the other hand are the curiosity. You can understand this.”
Draav burst up from sitting and knocks over the guarding Olumide. Natascha turns and fires her gun at Draav but Cas is surprised to see a stun blast hit Draav rather than a searing plasma bolt. Olumide stands up and regains his carbine that had been knocked from his hand.
“The obelisk seems to bring out the worst in us.” Natascha makes a hand motions that seems to include everyone but Cas.
“Look, I don’t know you and I don’t know what you think you know about me but I’ve never seen this object in my life.”
“Well, maybe you’ve never seen it in this life. Here, catch!” Natascha tosses the obelisk at Cas who hesitates but tries to catch it. As it touches his hands a series of glyphs are exposed over his body but unlike the scars left on Dr. Trorank these glyphs glow and then fade from Cas. Momentarily Cas thinks the obelisk is shaking in his hands but then realizes the ground beneath him is shaking. It dawns on him that he is shaking it.
“Hey, that’s a new one. The last person popped into another dimension and I haven’t seen them since.”
Cas is a mixture of confused, angry, and curious. “The last one? How many others have you tried this thing on?”
“You are number 8, though to be fair you are only the third subject to survive.”
Natascha’s team start to form up on her command. “Now, we go find your destiny Mr, Neros. There’s even a bright shiny light pointing the way.”
Cas looks up and out at the sky. The glyphs, the light, the power in him are all connected but why? how? Natascha may be a baddie but maybe the obelisk is taking a toll on her. Perhaps she can be saved, or at least Cas can stop her from testing out anyone else with a Sentinel artifact that clearly needs to be reigned in.
I spent a Decreasing Rep D6 die to “Sweet Talk” during my Interaction with Draav. Interaction is an opposed roll and it is not uncommon for those two rolls to cancel each other out leaving you with a “NPC will ignore you” result.
I had Boyd make a Savvy challenge and they failed, hard. Matching sixes on the die. I decided that was a good prompt for a random event and rolled an Action+Theme from Starforged. That came up as “Crime Scheme” which I found amusing. Between this session and the last Cas had already amassed enough clues at this point to “Find” the missing person. I did a simple 1d6 oracle roll (4+ = Yes) to ask the GM “Is the research team behind the crime scheme?” and got a 6 “yes” (If I only could roll so many sixes in my other games.) Such a strong “yes” suggested to me that this plot was much bigger - these folks had lured Cas here based on some knowledge they had… someone else knows Cas’ has Sentinel-connected psionic powers? It made sense to turn the “Find” quest on its head and say that really they were looking for (luring out?) Cas.
Upon making a successful Challenge task to catch the obelisk I rolled up a Starforged action & theme to figure what would happen with a result of “Acquire Culture.” To me this suggested what the story has hinted at all long - Cas has some form of Sentinel powers inside of him. I used the “creature abilities” table from Mythic Magazine 18 and got a word pair of “Disrupt Environment.” That’s how Cas got a telekinetic power that allows him to do things like shift the ground from under his feet.
With this Larger Than Life “Find” Story over I’ll have to decide whether to continue this storyline or try my hand at 5150 New Beginnings or Starforged again.
The Rings, Episode 3: Hiking on Leaon
A backwater swamp planet such as Leaon might be the last place you’d expect to see a sleek starship make a landing approach. The fancy ship secured a landing zone and the entry ramp elegantly opened to allow its occupants a smooth entry on to the swampy planet’s surface. The last person down the ramp is a large human with a sinister looking cut across their left cheek wearing a set of Xenohistory Service fatigues.
“Boyd, get your scanners up and running. Cas has a head start on us, there’s no telling what he’s found already.”
Everywhere Cas looked there was a disaster. Broken display screens, turned over furniture, and a dead body slumped against the side wall of a Namiko Mining Corp habitable dome.
Cas’s in-ear communicator pulsed with a notification.
“Another vessel has arrived on planet, Captain.”
“The next resupply is not for another two-weeks… perhaps we were followed here?”
“Unclear, sir. Shall I investigate?”
“No, let’s lock things down and hide our ship from any scans. Cas out.”
Cas’s strategy up until this point had been to methodically inspect the last known location of the research team. Now he would have to pick up the pace.
He knew from looking over the corpse that the indvidual had come into with a Sentinel artifact from the glyph-based tattoos now burned into their hands and arms. Their name badge had a single word printed on it: “Trorank.”
Poking through the computer systems had revealed another clue: a new location to check out. Team lead Natascha Karin had logged an entry noting Trorank’s erratic behavior since interacting with an “obelisk.” Natascha had convinced Trorank to isolate himself for the rest of team’s safety. Additionally Natascha had instructed a pair of team members to relocate essential supplies to another location.
Time was of the essence but so was the proper gear, Cas took an inventory of his surroundings and discovered a backpack of essential survival gear. Originally he had planned to return to his ship for gear but now he knew he needed to keep moving. He grabbed an area map with several handmarked circles on it. Possible supply sites? Artifacts? Either way they warranted investigation.
As evening set in on Leaon, the planet’s came to life with a cacophony of what Cas hoped were common insect sounds. Hiking to the closest marked site took longer than Cas estimated it would having underestimated the density of Leaon’s jungle brush. He found what he had hoped to find, supplies, or rather what was left of a supply crate. The insides of the crate were empty and the outside had a explosive hole in it as if had been blasted open. He had also hoped to find the research team but no such luck. Morbidly even finding “parts” of the research team might have been a small success but no signs of them would not result in a satisfactory payment from his employers.
Draav had no idea what he was looking for besides the usual alien shit. Cas had been typically aloof on the details and the library databanks had very little to suggest any Sentinel connection would be present on Leaon. The scanners returned a scattering of small wildlife nearby and the long-range scanners on the ship suggested a set of habitable domes in the area. Draav’s team had strongly favored making their way to the domes first but Draav instinctually felt that they would just be following in Cas’s footsteps if they did that. Instead he noted a hill feature on the horizon and pointed the team that way. With any luck they’d beat Cas to the fun stuff.
Site number #2 had been a dead-end and Cas had decided to call it a night. Waking up in the morning he headed to circle number #3 on his map. In hindsight, grabbing the topographic map might have been more helpful but Cas had wrongly assumed most of the planet was flat. It was near not-quite-a-mountain but also more-obnoxious-than-a-small-hill.
Cresting the hill Cas saw the unmistakable signs of Sentinel architecture. The facility appeared to have built inside of the hill. Cas doubted the research team would be here but perhaps there were clues as to where they might have headed. He walked up to the entrance and poked his head inside.
A cross-hatched laser field covered most of the area of the entry room. Cas had really botched this job by leaving his computer deck & tools back on the ship. He rooted around on the ground outside of the facility looking for anything mirror like. No luck.
“Well, when else fails…”
He took out his blaster and aimed at what hoped was an important part of the protective laser system. His hand would have to be steady as pulling off this shot would require place his blaster bolt between a small opening exposed by several interlacing laser lines. He pulled up his blaster, took a breath, and re-aimed it. Closing his eyes, he pulled the trigger. The bolt flew through the opening and hit the target dead on. The laser field flickered and then disappeared. Before Cas could pat himself on the back someone else’s strong hand did.
“Well done, Cas. You were always a better shot than me.”
Cas turned around but he already knew who had bested him to the site.
I’ve shifted play over to using more of the Larger Than Life 3rd Edition rules after I ran into some unfulfilling play loops with Future Tales. I also brought in some additional tools from Starforged, particularly the “Begin the Session” move, to enhance the game setup a bit.
The setup of Draav bringing a team to follow up on what Cas had told him was the result of the “begin the session” move (“unexpected return of an enemy or threat”.) The rest was through Larger Than Life gameplay (and a healthy helping of Challenge tests) with some details (like the corpse) filled in from Mythic Magazine Volume 18’s Specialized Meaning Tables. I’ve put the two teams on a “racing clock” from Blades in the Dark and using what qualifies as passed dice in Two Hour Wargames as “successes” to fill the clock. It started off as a close race but Draav’s team pulled decidedly ahead. A oracle check told me the site was trapped and the Starforged meaning tables suggested “blocked technology” given me the laser trap. The oracle’s denied me natural resources to solve the problem so I gave Cas a bonkers hard check to disable the laser by force which he aced.
Next time, we will figure out what all the fuss is about.
Star Wars RPG Story Framework: Opening Scene
I primarily put these tables together for my solitaire and cooperatively gamemastered roleplaying sessions but they are broadly useful for anyone trying to come up with a dramatic opening Star Wars scene. The inspiration for these tables comes primarily from thinking about the opening “In Media Res” scenes most Star Wars books, comics, movies, and televisions shows use to thrust the character into action.
Because I mostly play in either West End Games Star Wars or another roleplaying game that uses only regular six-sided dice, each of the random tables is keyed to something that can use them (rather than other polyhedrals.)
Determine Era & Opening Scene
It is important to pick an Era because this will frame the context for all of the conflict in your game. I picked the Eras from Disney’s current canon alignment to make life easier when looking things up on Wookiepedia but YMMV.
The purpose of the opening scene prompts are to setup the starting environment your character(s) will find themselves dropped into. Think about the prompts and try to imagine what the environment is like. Is it in-hospitable? overcrowded? under attack?
To begin, pick or roll on the following table to the set stage for your Star Wars solo adventure:
|D6||Era||Opening Scene: Objective||Opening Scene: Locale|
|1||The High Republic||Find someone||Barren|
|2||Fall of the Jedi||Find someone||Rural|
|3||Reign of the Empire||Find something||Rural|
|4||Age of Rebellion||Find something||Urban|
|5||The New Republic||Thwart the enemy||Space|
|6||Rise of the First Order||Thwart the enemy||Space|
To determine the full objective of your opening scene, recall the Opening Scene: Objective result and roll again on this table:
|D6||Find Someone||Find Something||Thwart the Enemy|
|1||Old friend||Location||Steal something|
|2||Family member||Map||Rescue a hostage|
|3||Ally||Key||Disable a device|
|4||Specialist||Droid||Destroy a weapon|
|5||Patron||Vehicle||Eliminate a leader|
|6||Leader||Unique item||Retrieve a powerful artifact|
Now determine which sub-area of your starting locale your scene will begin in:
|5||Oceans||Estate||Military facility||City center|
Roll on this loosely named “Biomes” table to determine the dominant “terrain” feature:
|6||Volcano||Forest||Planet adjacent||City planet|
If you roll up “planet adjacent” from the Space table you might pick or roll (d6) on one of 1-2) Barren, 3-4) Rural, or 5-6) Urban and then roll a d6 again to determine the exact nature of the nearby planet.
To complete our environment we will determine what our “In Media Res” state is:
|1||In transit||In transit||In transit||In transit|
|2||In chase||In chase||In chase||In chase|
|3||In battle||In battle||In battle||In battle|
While “in chase” or “in battle” paint a clear picture of the state of things “in transit” gives you a brief moment of the “calm before the storm.” Your character(s) is in hyperspace or an arrival approach of some sort. Perhaps they are giving one last speech before they brazenly attack or stealthily breach their next location. Maybe there is a violent storm that is preventing the characters from reaching their first destination.
Dice Rolling Methods: In Order or Upfront
One method to consider besides procedurally rolling on each table in order is to just roll 6 dice upfront and assign them to the results for each table that you like the most.
The “Big” Example:
To begin I decide to pick my Era, the “Age of Rebellion”, and roll a d6 die twice on the Opening Scene tables. Rolling a 1 and a 3 I have an Objective of “Find someone” and “Rural”. Now to determine who we are looking for with a d6 and we roll a 2. So we are looking for a “Family Member”. Next I roll another d6 scoring a 6 for a “Starport” Location and a 5 on another d6 for the “Plains” Biome. Rounding things out for the environment I’ll roll a d6 as a d3 (divide the result in half) and I get a (2/2 = 1) for “In transit”.
Thinking about all of these elements together reveal a story seed for me: A family member is in trouble with the Empire. They live on or have made their way to a rural praire planet’s major starport and need help getting out. I’d probably make a quick d6 table on-the-fly to determine the nature of the family relationship - something like 1) sibling 2) parent 3) spouse 4) grandparent 5) cousin 6) child. The key to a lot of random RPG generation is quick on-the-fly table such as these.
Characters and NPCs
If you need more detailed inspiration for the “someones” in your game then consider the following four tables:
|13||Animal Master/Beast Rider/Big Game Hunter||43||Mercenary/Bounty Hunter/Hired Gun|
|33||Force Sensitive/Dark Side Adept/Jedi*||63||Slicer/Hacker/Infobroker|
Droids are varied in the Star Wars universal but for some quick information here’s a simple d6 table you could use: 1) Assassin 2) Astromech 3) Labor 4) Medical 5) Protocol 6) Security
The are too many species in Star Wars to reliably place into a d66 or even d666 style table. Instead I’ve taken someone’s online analysis of species occurrence data in the various media properties and used those percentages to seed this table:
Perhaps you are looking for a snappy quote as inspiration for a character’s disposition or motivations:
|11||“Rebellions are built on hope.“|
|12||“If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.”|
|13||“I can assure you they will never get me on one of those dreadful Star Ships.”|
|14||“Same thing I always do: talk my way out of it.”|
|15||“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.”|
|16||“You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.”|
|21||“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”|
|22||“Never tell me the odds!”|
|23||“Someday I will be the most powerful Jedi ever.”|
|24||“Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.”|
|25||“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”|
|26||“I’ve been running scams on the streets since I was ten.“|
|31||“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”|
|32||“You’re coming with me. I’ll not leave you here, I’ve got to save you.”|
|33||“Somebody has to save our skins.”|
|34||“I’m one with the Force. The Force is with me.”|
|35||“Your focus determines your reality.”|
|36||“Judge me by my size, do you?”|
|41||“In my experience there is no such thing as luck.”|
|42||“The time to fight is now.”|
|43||“He’s the brains, sweetheart!”|
|44||“I am no Jedi.”|
|45||“I’m gonna be a pilot. The best in the galaxy.”|
|46||“No. I am your father.”|
|51||“Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, farm boy.”|
|52||“When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.”|
|53||“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”|
|54||“It’s a trap!”|
|55||“The Force will be with you. Always.”|
|56||“We’ll take the next chance, and the next, until the chances are spent.”|
|61||“I can fix this.”|
|62||“I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people.”|
|63||“I am here to put you back on schedule.”|
|64||“Great shot kid, that was one in a million.”|
|65||“I’ve outrun Imperial starships… she’s fast enough for you, old man.”|
|66||“I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.”|
West End Games Character Templates
Finally, I offer you this d666 table of the majority of character template names from the original Star Wars Roleplaying game from West End Games. While the game was “classless” many of the character templates (think of them as a pre-gens that could be further customized to your liking) provided some colorful inspiration as to which direction to take a character:
|111||Alien Student Of The Force||312||Hot-Shot Pilot||513||Quarren Deep Hunter|
|112||Alliance Agitator||313||House Guard||514||Quarren Miner|
|113||Alliance Liaison||314||House Guard Captain||515||Quarren Street Hustler|
|114||Alliance Observer||315||House Guard Officer||516||Quarren Swindler|
|115||Ambassador||316||House Knight||521||Questioning Jedi|
|116||Annoying Squib||321||House Retainer||522||Quixotic Jedi|
|121||Armchair Historian||322||House Troubleshooter||523||Rebel Conspirator|
|122||Arms Merchant||323||Imperial Academy Cadet||524||Rebel Recruit|
|123||Arrogant Imperial Noble||324||Imperial Adjutant||525||Rebel Saboteur|
|124||Arrogant Noble||325||Imperial Assassin-In-Training||526||Resistance Leader|
|125||Bacta Merchant||326||Imperial Bounty Hunter||531||Retired Imperial Captain|
|126||Bacta Pirate||331||Imperial Diplomat||532||Retired Republic Clone Trooper|
|131||Bacta Smuggler||332||Imperial Double Agent||533||Retired Republic Navy Officer|
|132||Barabel Shockboxer||333||Imperial Intelligence Agent||534||Revwien Tyia Adept|
|133||Battle Master||334||Imperial Morale Officer||535||Rodian Dramatist|
|134||Beast Master||335||Imperial Smuggler||536||Rodian Gunner|
|135||Big Game Hunter||336||Independent Bounty Hunter||541||Rodian Pacifist|
|136||Bimm Bard||341||Industrial Espionage Agent||542||Rookie New Republic Pilot|
|141||Bith Musician||342||Instructor||543||Saber Rake|
|143||Bodyguard||344||Iotran Bounty Hunter||545||Scavenger|
|144||Bounty Hunter||345||ISB Agent||546||Scholar|
|145||Brash Pilot||346||ISB Investigations Specialist||551||Scientist|
|146||Cautious First Mate||351||ISB Protocol Officer||552||Scout Droid|
|151||Classy Smuggler||352||Ithorian Storyteller||553||Security Specialist|
|152||Comm Slicker||353||Jaded Spice Runner||554||Senator|
|153||CompForce Assault Trooper||354||JAN Operative||555||Shadow|
|154||COMPNOR Military Liaison||355||Jawa Trader||556||Ship Captain|
|155||COMPNOR SAGroup Youth||356||Jedi Consular||561||Ship’s Gunner|
|156||Con Artist||361||Jedi Guardian||562||Shipwright|
|161||Corporate Scout||362||Jedi Master||563||Skip Tracer|
|163||Court Fop||364||Klatooinan Roustabout||565||Sludir Crate-Buster|
|164||Curious Explorer||365||Laconic Scout||566||Smuggler|
|165||Cyborged Pirate||366||Locator||611||Snivvian Artist|
|166||Cynical Free-Trader||411||Loyal Retainer||612||Space Rescue Corps Officer|
|211||Cynical Scout||412||Marshall||613||SpaceOps Trooper|
|212||Devaronian Grifter||413||Mechanic||614||SpecForce Driver/Pilot|
|213||Disgraced House Guardsman||414||Merc||615||SpecForce Heavy Weapons Specialist|
|214||Disguise Artist||415||Mercenary Trader||616||SpecForce Infiltrator|
|215||Doctor||416||Mining Guild Recruiter||621||SpecForce Pathfinder|
|216||Droid Specialist||421||Minor Jedi Knight||622||SpecForce Scanner/Communications Operators|
|221||Duro Merchant||422||Mon Calamari||623||SpecForce Technician/Engineer/Medic|
|222||Entrepreneur||423||Mon Calamari Courier||624||SpecForce Urban Combat Specialist|
|223||Ewok Shaman||424||Mon Calamari Crewman||625||SpecForce Wilderness Fighter|
|224||Ewok Template||425||Mon Calamari Mediator||626||Speeder Racer|
|225||Ewok Warrior||426||Mon Calamari Medic||631||Spoiled Debutante|
|226||Ex-Imperial Commando||431||Mon Calamari Pilot||632||Squadron Leader|
|231||Ex-Imperial Scout||432||Mon Calamari Professor||633||Squib Trader|
|232||Ex-Rocket Jumper||433||Mon Calamari Spacer||634||Sullustan Engineer|
|233||Failed Jedi||434||Mon Calamari Technician||635||Sullustan Trader|
|234||Flamboyant Entertainer||435||Mrlssti Roving Entertainer||636||Svivreni Mineralogist|
|235||Force Sensitive Emergent||436||Mrlssti Swindler||641||TIE Fighter Pilot|
|236||Force Sensitive Exile||441||Mrlssti Tutor||642||Tongue-Tied Engineer|
|241||Former Separatist Commander||442||Mystic||643||Tough Native|
|242||Freedom Warrior||443||New Republic Bureaucrat||644||Tramp Freighter Captain|
|243||Freeworlds Artist||444||New Republic Intelligence Operative||645||Twi’lek Co-Pilot|
|244||Freeworlds Trader||445||New Republic Security Force Agent||646||Unemployed Imperial Bureaucrat|
|245||Fringe Trader||446||NewsNet Reporter||651||Veteran Spacer|
|251||Galactic Big Game Hunter||452||Noble-In-Exile||653||Weapons Instructor|
|252||Gambler||453||Old Senatorial||654||Weary Ship’s Tech|
|253||Ground Assault Vehicle Commander||454||Ordnance Procurer||655||Whiphid Collector|
|254||Guild Bounty Hunter||455||Outlaw||656||Wookiee|
|255||Gunrunner||456||Outlaw Tech||661||Wookiee Bounty Hunter|
|256||Gunslinger||461||Pack Tracker||662||Wookiee First Mate|
|262||Herglic Archaeologist||463||Privateer Captain||664||Xenoarchaeologist|
|263||Herglic Gambler||464||Professional Bodyguard||665||Young Jedi Padawan|
|264||High-Stakes Gambler||465||Professional Thief||666||Young Senatorial|
|311||HoloVid Gossip Columnist||512||Protocol Droid|
May the Force be with you friends of Star Wars roleplaying!
The Rings, Episode 2: Colleagues
Cas walked towards the tram heading towards the hangars. “Cas Neros!” barked a voice from behind him. Cas turned and saw a large uniformed man with a sinister looking cut across their left cheek.
“Draav.” Cas hesitated not knowing what someone from the Xenohistory Service would want with him. “How’s the Service treating you?”
“Well last week my ass was buried in a sandstorm bigger than a Unkii’s droppings but eventually our team discovered an handful of new Glyphs.” Cas did his best to hide his interest. “Glyphs” were a form of alien hieroglyphic writing found among the discovery sites scattered throughout the galaxy. “And what are you up to?” asked Draav.
“An associate has lost contact with a team of employees, thought I’d lend a hand.”
“This is what you do now? Odd jobs? Never understood why you left.”
“Just want to help where I can, Draav. Send my regards to the others.”
Draav nodded, gave Cas a lazy salute, and boarded a tram heading to the Xenohistory Service Command quarters.
Cas thought about his connection to the aliens and the odd sense of power that flowed through him when he was near certain relics. No one in the Xenohistory Service could know unless Cas wanted to be turned into a science experiment.
His tram ride to the hangars was uneventful. His flight out to Leaon was equally dull as the space lanes were empty and the route avoided any possible asteroid belts. Leaon being so remote and rural meant there was nothing to greet him on arrival but an automated landing beacon guiding his way to the starport field. It was evening now on Leaon and not an ideal time to go trotting off into the swamplands.
Cas stayed on ship and prepared his equipment for the next day. Late in the evening he decided to make himself an espresso. Walking into the ship’s galley he ran into a humanoid shaped robot with the designation “r4-1PH” written out on their chassis.
“Hi Ralph, still fixing the environment control systems in here?”
“Yes. I only require another hour to finish the repair.”
“Excellent. When you are done try to pull up whatever maps you can find in the ship’s library for the habitable planets in this sector. Just in case we don’t find what we are looking for here.”
Cas sipped his espresso and begin to reread the employee data files.
After you create the “Opening Scene” in a Larger Than Life/Future Tales story you move on to a Travel Scene. This is really just like a typical wilderness hexcrawl random encounter setup you might find in a Dungeon & Dragons game but abstracted in the usual Two Hour Wargames (THW) way. For each node of travel you roll a d6 and on a 1 you’ve got an encounter to deal with. For the 5 nodes I had to traverse there was only 1 encounter I had to deal with and that was at first connection. Future Tales told me the encounter would not be with the “Big Bad” or their minions but instead with an “Enemy Military.” I made the “Have you met them before?” test from 5150 New Beginnings (another THW title) and scored a 9 - it was an NPC I have run into before and it was a positive interaction. It made the most sense to me that this was someone from the Xenohistory Service - who aren’t necessarily “enemies” but I think Cas’ “psionic” powers are likely frowned upon in this galaxy. For this encounter it was a Confrontation that initially might be resolved with a social interaction (known as “Talk the Talk” in THW lingo.) Both Cas & Draas (whose various features I fleshed out with some rolls on the new Mythic Magazine Volume 18 character feature descriptor tables) rolled the same result on their interaction checks which left me with a result of “They give you a warning and leave or Pleasantries! Characters exchange pleasantries and nothing more.” Again, this made sense with the established fiction.
I knew from the beginning I wanted Cas to have a robot companion. I created one using the random Robot tables in the Future Tales book. For time of day on arrival in Leaon I just used the 1d6 Day (low) or Night (high) roll found in all THW games.
It is funny to read through the Future Tales mechanics because they are all over the place. Sometimes you are rolling a dice pool equal to your Rep and looking for 1s, 2s, or 3s. Sometimes you roll under your rep. Sometimes… and so on and so forth. Things are really all over the place. Larger Than Life 3rd edition feels much better in this regard. I will say again that the story generation tools in Future Tales are very very good for I want and they’ll be a part of this game for the foresable future. Anything thing else is up for experimentation.
The Rings, Episode 1: Missing on Leaon
Without the magnificent Rings of Topphin this slice of the galaxy would have been nothing more than a common refueling stop. The Rings brought not only commerce but entertainment for those seeking to rejuvenate themselves from the jarring realities of the galaxy. A series of concentric counter-rotating rings made up the facility which orbited the only major gas giant in the area. Whomever, or whatever, built the Rings is a mystery.
Cas Neros woke up this day on the Rings not feeling rejuvenated but anxious. The morning’s double shot of espresso may have been a bad idea. Moments later their com bleeped with an incoming call which Cas answered.
“I’m in need of your services. We’ve not heard from a team of researchers on Leaon in two solars and we do not have a crew in the area that could assist in an assessment. The next scheduled resupply is about two weeks out, we were hoping you could help us sooner than that.”
“What were they researching?” asked Cas.
“Remains of an ancient construct we discovered while expanding our titanium mine operations. When the remains were discovered we halted the mine operations to allow the researchers to conduct their work. My company is a signatory to the Hegemony’s Discovered Artifacts Protection Accords and we would not want to run afoul of regulators.”
The Rings weren’t the only alien creation in this sector. The Hegemony was extremely interested in understanding the origins and the disappearance of their creators.
“What happened to the mining crew or the local security team? Would they not be in a better position to assist?”
“We reallocated the crews to the Dornabhon-3 asteroid belt for a temporary assignment. There’s not an established local presence on Leaon, it is mostly swamplands. The research team are staying in floating prefabs on a lake near the site. There’s been no aggressive wildlife to date so we had not felt a need to leave a heavy security presence with the team. I can transmit the employee files to you. You’ll find at least one of the research team members was trained in basic combat.”
Cas paused for a moment. “Why me? Surely there must be someone under your employ already that can help you.”
“You have a reputation for getting things done, Mr. Neros.” After a long silence the caller added “… your experience with xenohistory may prove invaluable.”
It is true than Cas had once been a part of the Xenohistory Service.
“I’ll forward my contract to your office. Please send along the employee files, the landing zone coordinates, and the discovery archives.”
“Thank you, Mr. Neros. We’ll be in touch.”
Cas ended the call, pulled two more shots of espresso, and packed his bag.
After trying to wrap my brain around the content in 5150 New Beginnings I became somewhat overwhelmed. The material is organized in such a way that is hard for me to unpack and get into. But I do love the general game play of a Two Hour Wargames (“THW”) title so I’m returning to some older content: Future Tales and Larger Than Life 3rd Edition. I’ll be using most of the story and world building content from Future Tales while playing things out with the more streamlined mechanics of Larger Than Life’s 3rd Edition rules. Larger Than Life excels at creating a connected set of pulp story scenes. I’d love to link you over to Larger Than Life 3rd Edition but it seems to have been removed from the THW product line (presumably sold to Rebel Minis but I don’t see it in their product listing either.)
The above is the narration of the “Opening Scene” rolls where I rolled up an objective to “Find or Rescue Person.” Drilling down it was determined I would need to gather 4 clues to find someone to “help with a problem.” I choose to call “home” a location in Space and came up with the concept for “The Rings” after making a few rolls on some random inspiration tables from the Solo Game Master’s Guide and Starforged. Future Tales told me the person was an “exotic” (someone unique) with a “professional” job. They were last seen in a “rural” “low residential” location. When I asked Starforged why they were there I got a prompt about “Construct Expedition.” From there I let my GM’s brain work a bit until I landed on the idea that they were researchers exploring a xenohistory site. Further I remembered the idea from Ghost Planets that there were abandoned xenohistory sites waiting to be discovered throughout the galaxy. I thought it would be interesting to have even as something as populated as The Rings themselves to be part of these abandoned alien mystery. I rolled on a Traveller Patron table I had laying around to determine who the main character was and got “A spy who possesses telepathy or other unusual quality.” I’m not sure what the “unusual” quality is but I’ve always wanted to use the Psionics rules in a THW game so I’ll work out these details when it becomes relevant.
For deciding how my character learned about this situation I rolled again on my Traveller Patron table and came up with “A corporate boss, worried about current situation.” This was enough information to put together the opening bit of dialogue and description.
Credits: “Rings” art by Espen Saetervik.
My current solo gaming has stalled a bit mostly due to problems of my own making. I believe at some point in everyone’s solo roleplay gaming journey you will have acquired just enough experience with roleplaying games (ditto: so-called “narrative skirmish miniatures gaming”) that you fancy yourself a game designer. You write a few house rules and eventually these notes snowball and turn themselves into full-fledged systems. Some folks will just publish these raw notes as a game outright (nothing wrong with that!) Myself I prefer playtesting because of my background in technical product design which is heavily rooted in user experience concepts such as iteration, testing, determining viability of an idea… this is just how my brain works.
Lately I’ve been noodling on a two different angles but both have reached unfulfilling conclusions. Sometimes a set of rules looks good on paper, the math even “checks out”, but once you get it to “the table” something feels off. The dice mechanic feels at odds with the tone of the game or the systems have interlinked tracking that feel more like bookkeeping than a engaging resource management.
Usually when a product design feels “off” I start to reduce the problem down to something smaller where I can pinpoint what success should look like. Likewise here on my gaming ideas I think I will pause my Privateer game and my 5150 Mythic RPG conversion so I can reset a bit. The Privateer concept was going great until I tried to mash it up with a game system concept I wanted to playtest in parallel. That playtest ran into some issue and I lost the initiative to push the story forward. The 5150 Mythic experiment hit a dead end when I could not work how combat should flow such that it felt like a Two Hour Wargames dynamic combat scene - two sides trading initiative, returning fire, ducking back for cover, and so on.
Having re-read my notes over the last few days one thing I’d like to explore is the Mythic RPG again. This time I’m going to try to work on exploiting just one part of that system: managing the stakes. Every roll in Mythic could result in one of five outcomes:
- Exceptional Yes
- Exceptional No
- Random Event (and this one could occur in combination with any of the above)
Understanding this framework I’d like to think about how to best apply this as a template to actions in the type of solitaire science fiction space-faring roleplaying game I enjoy.
The other thing I intend to do is sit down and read Floor Games & Little Wars by H.G. Wells. Both deal with “whimsical” imaginary wargames played by children. A delightful topic for reflection as I move my gaming hobby habits forward.
Privateer, Episode 3: Improvisation
For the next several episodes I’ll be running some improvised rules for my sessions. I like Traveller’s 2d6+modifier mechanics but I’m also a big of fan dice pools. One RPG/skirmish rule system I love is called the GoalSystem, from Four Color Studios. It has been used in a few titles I’ve played - most notably for me the cyberpunk solitaire procedural police thriller “The Department (of Fabricant Management)” and the pulpy space opera “Farthest Star: Sci-Fi Skirmish Role-Play For One Or More Players.”
Both games feature solitare play that is built around miniatures skirmish scenarios but also include small sections on “Roleplaying Game Modes.” What I want to do is create my own open-ended scenario resolution system that is similar to Zozer’s “The Plan” but feels like it fits right into a GoalSystem game. The benefits are that I can run stories when and where I like using mechanics I find fun and when I have the energy (and space) I can drop down to the tabletop and play an engaging solitarie skirmish game as well.
Farthest Star has a number of neat little tools - including one I was already using “Crew Wealth Score” which acts an abstract measure of supplies and money earned. I also start using the Farthest Star stats, traits, and gear definitions as appropriate.
Jump Point, CM-N1054 System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.004
As the Plucky Weasel popped out of jump space, Kell turn around in his pilot chair and activated the scanners.
Encounter Roll, Encounter on 2+: 1d6: 2 yes!
Page 66, Farthest Star - Solo Encounter Balance Table: 1d6:  = Even strength battle. Ship type - 1-3: Talon, 4-5: Gladius, 6: Demon 1d6:  Talon
Okay, there’s a single Talon out here - Talons are frequently flown by the local militia, pirates or the Church of Man. Militia is right out but how about the other two?
Pirates 3-, Church of Man 4+ 1d6:  = Church of Man
“Retros, fudge.” thought Kell as he redirected power to his ship’s engines. Kell knew the trick with a Talon was to not let get in behind your ship where it can launch its missiles. He pushed his ship’s acceleration to the max in hopes of closing the encounter distance and getting the jump on the Talon.
I need some quick Farthest Star stats for a Talon just to be able to narratively compare the two ships. The Talon is a fast light fighter, faster than a Tarsus so (using the vehicles rules on on page 156) we will say Attack 4, Defense 1, Sensors 2. Our Tarsus will be Attack 2, Defense 3, Sensors 3.
Since we also have to factor in pilot skill we’ll consider the Talon to be piloted by a minor NPC: Fitness 3, Intellect 3, Will 5 (higher than a normal minor NPC because of how dedicated the Retros are) Health 3
Kell will be a major character with Fitness 5, Intellect 5, Will 5, Health 7. There’s more to character creation in Farthest Star than this but we’ll call it good enough.
Now we could run this like a traditional RPG encounter - a series of opposed rolls and tracking damage untill one ship is disabled. But as you’ve seen I prefer to keep things a bit more abstract. Kell will make what I call an “Open Goal Roll”, he’ll pick a stat and see how many successes (“Goals”) he can score. Then he’ll carry those over as a bonus to what Farthest Star calls a “Unopposed Roll” vs how risky Kell’s approach is as he tries to resolve this scene. Finally there’s a Chance Roll (Tries to score 2+ successes on 2D with no bonuses) to see if there was a good or bad consequence.
Open Goal Roll 5D: [5,4,5,6,6] 7 successes - +3D to the next roll!
Scene Unopposed Goal Roll 5D: [2,4,6,1,6] 5 successes vs TN4 (risky position): success!
Consequence Chance Roll: [5,2] 1 successes vs TN2: bad consequence:
- Bad consequence table (+1 because the scene was a success) 1d6: 2+1 = 3: “A crew member suffers a light injury” -1 Kell’s Health (and, rules-as-written, there’s also a movement penalty but we’ll just handle that narratively if necessary)
The Plucky Weasel shakes as Kell hits the afterburners to move to engagement range. The aggressiveness catches the Talon pilot off-guard and Kell rips a few shots into the Talon. It starts smoking but then something even more brazen than Kell’s approach; the Talon’s pilot puts everything into their ship’s engines and move to ram Kell’s ship. Kell barely has time to redirect energy into the shields before the collision happens. The Talon explodes and the Weasel rocks. The force of the impact jostles the repair toolbox stowed above Kell’s head and it falls down.
“Oww!” Kell rubs his head and glances at his radar. The Talon is gone. Looking over at the hull readout he sees his ship has sustained some mild damage and based on the throbbing pain he can tell his head has been cut. Still he’s alive. This lone Talon could have been a recon patrol… perhaps there is a Retro operation out here after all.
Lacking any type of advanced scanners or cloaking Kell wonders how to scope out the asteroids without attracting more attention. Even if he did find the Retro’s operation, what was he going to do? Go in guns blazing against … 10, 20… even more foes? No, what Kell needed was a diversion and, as always, a bit of luck.
Kell plans to remove the transponder from his ship, rig it to something that will float out in space, and try to lure one or more Retros out. When the transponder is picked up it’ll broadcast a message to the Retros telling them to give up Georgia Collins if they wish to avoid any more trouble. He’ll have his own ship go dark and gently nudge in close to an asteroid to avoid detection. If nothing else maybe it’ll make Collins nervous and she’ll relocate herself to another system.
Kell can bring his Intellect 5, +2D Toolkit to this check:
Kell’s hacking Open Goal Roll 7D: [4,4,6,3,4,5,6] 8 successes, +3D
I reason Kell’s in a controlled position here - there’s little risk to him or his ship if this fails and he readily succeeded on his hacking roll so the beacon must be fairly convincing.
Scene Unopposed Goal Roll 5D: [5,6,2,1,3] 3 successes vs TN3 (controlled position): (a bare) success!
Consequence Chance Roll 2D: [2,2] 0 successes vs TN2: bad consequence
- Bad consequence table (+1 success): 1d6+1: +1 = 7: “The crew gains a rival NPC” - Perhaps Kell was a bit sloppy with transponder hacking after all - I think the Retros can trace this back to Kell and they’ll put 2+2 together and assume he also is responsible for the loss of their recon pilot. He’s a known entity to the Retros now.
We’ve got a montage of Kell taking apart spare parts on his ship, soldering metals together, and launching the decoy. Kell slides his ship deftly out of the picture and waits for the Retros to take the bait.
(1d3: ) Three Retros show up and initially are bit confused but stumble across the decoy. Message received Kell hopes.
How do the Retros react? 4- Georgia is tipped off and runs, 5+ they’ll seek to hand-over Georgia 1d6:  = we’ve got a runner!
Hours later a beat-up Drayman class merchant ship heads out to the jump point. Kell waits a bit then powers up his ship and follows them back to the Pyrenees system.
Well, you’ll have to pardon my dust as I experiment with some different dice mechanics. The GoalSystem is fun and I’m enjoying the game design aspects but I also can’t help but feel I’m not taking full advantage of the system’s mechanics.
Kell will have his work cut out for him still. It is unlikely the merchant ship is headed to New Iberia but perhaps to the refinery on Basque for refueling before making their next jump. Also at what point does this goose chase become a money pit for Kell? Spending more on fuel and repairs for the hunt than the reward is a pretty clear line I’d think for our struggling freelancer.
Privateer, Episode 2: Wanted, Alive
Hector, Troy System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.002
“Now you don’t want to go flashing this around and you didn’t get it from us.”
Kell nodded as the mining guild rep slid a wrapped up disruptor pistol across the table.
“Any work on this system for a privateer?”
1-4 Yes, 5-6 No - 1d6: 
“There’s plenty of work, sure, but the only folks getting a job on this rock are guild members.”
Kell nodded and thanked the rep for his time then headed up to the bar.
“Got any Ol’Janx Spirit?”
The bartender came back with a small whiskey glass.
“What’s the news around here?” asked Kell.
“How are things around Hector?” 1d6:  “Bad”
- Why? Starforged action+theme oracle: “Leave Fame”
- What fame? Starforged action+theme oracle: “Reveal Corruption”
“Miners are still searching for their next president after Vyra Cobb left.”
“Cobb? Should I know that name?”
“Hell kid, she’s the “Hero of Hector.” All this was under the control of Xemaais Unified until she led the Miner’s uprising.”
“Xemaais, the starship weapons manufacturer. What’s so wrong about them?”
“Xemaais was reckless with the lives of their employees. Worked them to death. Ms. Cobb organized the Miners, led them on a strike. Xemaais sent in some mercs to reestablish order and it went sideways. Cobb rallied the Miners and got them to fight back. Miners took control of the station and it has been independently operated since.”
“Fascinating story, not going to help me find work though.”
“Perhaps. Lots of folks coming and going right now with all the leadership meetings. Some might be looking for escort given the pirate activity.”
Kell finished his drink and headed down to the hanger bay’s mission computer. While finding work by word-of-mouth was the best way to build up Kell’s contacts the mission computer almost always has work.
Here’s where we can break out of the video game box. Privateer had a fairly limited set of open-world missions: attack, bounty hunting, defend base, patrol, and scout. All of them involved hopping back into your ship, flying to some point in space, and doing some space combat (though the scout missions typically involved just scanning something.)
Many space-themed RPGs and supplements have their own job generators. There’s pros & cons to each of them and I won’t provide an extensive review in the middle of gameplay. Classic Traveller’s had Patrons which didn’t give the referee a whole to work with but others have built up a bit more around the concept. Zozer’s SOLO comes with a perfectly adequate patron mission generator. I also like the job generator in Wizards of the Coast’s 2008 Star Wars Saga Edition supplement: Scum and Villainy. There’s also some useful tables in Modiphius’ Five Parsecs from Home 3rd Edition that can be repurposed. With that in mind, I’ve come up with my hodgepodge job generator I’ll use built around a few of these tables. I’ll roll a d6+2 to determine how many jobs are available and then generate that many options for Kell to look through.
How many jobs? 1d6+2: +2 = 4
Kell placed his hand on the mission computer and 4 entries appeared:
- Patron: Local Government
- Job/Mission: Deliver (Easy)
- Target/Deliverable: Large Item - Tool Equipment
- Destination: 1-2 Achilles, 3-4 Hector, 5 Pyreness, 6 Pender’s Star 1d6:  Pyreness
- Location: Urban - Spaceport
- Pay 2c
- Patron: Local Government
- Job/Mission: Find (Moderate)
- Target/Deliverable: Person - Police Officer
- Destination: 1-2 Achilles, 3-4 Hector, 5 Pyreness, 6 Pender’s Star 1d6:  Pyreness
- Location: Urban - Entertainment
- Pay 4c
- Patron: Private Organization
- Job/Mission: Deliver (Easy)
- Target/Deliverable: Information - Password Code(s)
- Destination: 1-2 Achilles, 3-4 Hector, 5 Pyreness, 6 Pender’s Star 1d6:  Achilles
- Location: Urban - Spaceport
- Pay 2c
- Patron: Local Government
- Job/Mission: Rescue (Hard)
- Target/Deliverable: Person - Government Scientist
- Destination: 1-2 Achilles, 3-4 Hector, 5 Pyreness, 6 Pender’s Star 1d6:  Pender’s Star
- Location: Orbital - Command
- Pay 5c
Kell eyed the two jobs in the Pyreness system, both on the agricultural world of New Iberia. The cargo job was straightforward but hunting down a police officer was not really in Kell’s wheel-house. Kell didn’t need to pull out his personal computer to check his finances, he knew 6 cred would make a big difference. He tapped both jobs and pressed his hand to the mission computer once again. The information was transferred to his personal computer. New Iberia had purchased a piece of mining equipment from the Hector mining operation and wanted it delivered. The bounty job was more curious, Victoria (an agricultural world in the Junction system) had posted the bounty in several systems. One “Georgia Collins, Police Officer” wanted alive for the wrongful termination of a Victorian citizen. Last seen on New Iberia. Well hopefully they were still there because a wild goose chase could quickly turn unprofitable.
How stable is the Pyrenees system? 1d6:  “good”
The Plan: Fly to the Pyrenees jump point, then sublight travel to New Iberia to deliver the cargo & look for the police officer while trying to out-run any pirates encounters in the Troy system once again.
- Kell Barban. A difficult Space throw to out-fly any pirates:
- (TN 9+): [3,5]+1 = 9 (E0) success!
It is a “risky” plan throw:
- (TN 8+): [2,4]+1 = 7 failed!
- with a good consequence:
- Hear a rumour or discover a valuable piece of information
A near miss on the plan throw but a successful skill throw to avoid the pirate encounters.
What failed? 1-2 Cargo, 3-4 Police Officer, 5-6 Both 1d6: 
This makes sense - given our bonus good consequence. The cargo run wasn’t particularly interesting and if the pirate encounters were avoided there’s little trouble there. The Police Officer has moved on but Kell picks up their trail.
New Iberia, Pyrenees System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.002
“This is New Iberia control, you are cleared for an automatic landing on Bay 02.”
Stations with guided landings were always appreciated because you could at least charge any foulups to them. After clearing starport customs, Kell dropped off the large crate of equipment in the import zone and gathered his 2c payment. Pulling up the other job he flipped through the information to look for the key details.
“Officer Collins last seen eating breakfast at The Starlight, a local diner.” Kell noted this and boarded his ship. A night’s rest would do him good.
New Iberia, Pyrenees System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.003
Once again, we can take advantage of the format and step beyond the confines of the video game world. In Privateer planetary/orbital locations are mostly generic. They’ve got the hanger, the various guild offices, a bar, a ship dealer, and the cargo area. A few have some special locations related to the video game’s story. So we’ll step out of the starport and into the major urban area on New Iberia. Since there’s no existing setting material for this I’ll just use this handy chart from Two Hour Wargames’ Future Tales:
We’re at #2 “Starport” and need to traverse to “#5” “Entertainment” to find our target. Of course we know they aren’t there but Kell will go looking and at least instead pick up the trail. There’s a number of ways we could handle “random encounters” (the dungeon equivalent of “roaming monsters”) including using the system this map comes from. In Future Tales moving from one “area” to another involves rolling 1d6 and on a 1 you have a confrontation of some sort.
Three area movement checks: 3d6: [5, 6, 1]
Interesting! The last check triggers a confrontation - in the same area where the target is. Maybe Kell does find them after all…
Kell stepped off the busy morning rush hover tram and discretely looked at his disruptor pistol.
“Huh, no stun setting. Should’ve thought of asking about that.” thought Kell.
Stowing the pistol back into his jacket, Kell walked a block to the diner. The words “Starlight” glimmered in huge silver & blue letters on the outside. Stepping inside Kell recognized it was patterned after a Terran North American 1950s diner, a popular aesthetic throw back in many sectors Terrans had expanded into. Blue and white checkered tiles dominated the walls with highly polished curved steel counters and bar seats. The tables were white with single wheeled serving robots taking orders. Kell grabbed at the seat at the counter.
“Cup of coffee and some hyrdacakes, thanks.” Kell tapped his personal computer against the serving robot’s hand to transfer the money.
He looked around for anyone human, an employee, maybe someone who looked like a regular because robots were unlikely to provide interesting answers to his questions.
Are there human employees? 1-2 No, 3-6 Yes 1d6: 1 No
Like many eating establishments, this place had gone fully automated. Probably why the cop chose it - no humans to necessarily interact with.
Are there any regulars? 1-3 No, 4-6 Yes 1d6:  Yes!
The sound of the sliding door caught Kell’s attention.
- Adventure Crafter character descriptor+identity: “Sophisticated Socialite”
The person presented male, sharply dressed, and took a seat next to Kell. After they ordered Kell pulled out his personal computer and accessed the portrait image of Georgia Collins.
“I’m here to meet someone, they look like this - have you seen them?”
“Sure, she’s always here on the weekdays.” the man said as he looked around. “Don’t see her but I’m sure she’ll be in.”
“’Cakes and coffee.” a robot interrupted and slid them in front of Kell.
The exterior door slid open once more and a person presenting female stepped inside. The sharply dressed man tapped Kell and said a bit too loudly “Hey’s there’s your friend.”
The woman briefly looked at the pair and quickly turned to head back out. Kell shoved a pancake-like piece of food into his mouth and ran out the front door.
“Georgia Collins, stop! I’m authorized to bring you in” he yelled out.
How does Collins get away?
- Starforged action+theme: “Command Innocence”
Collins instinctively knew how to manipulate the situation. They ran up to a nearby police officer “That man, there — he’s been following me all morning! Please officer, help!”
The local officer turned and moved to confront Kell. Georgia Collins took off in another direction.
“Sir stop!” The officer raised his stun baton and held it in an attack position facing Kell.
Kell stopped his pursuit… maybe it was the army training that made him heed to the officer. Other than carrying a highly illegal disruptor pistol, Kell had done nothing wrong anyways.
“That person is my asset, I have a license to acquire them from the Victorian planetary government.”
Kell pulled out his personal computer to show the warrant details.
Does the officer want to bring Kell in for questioning? 1-3 Yes, 4-6 No - 1d6:  Yes
“We’ll need to check these details out down at the station.”
Kell hung his head. Collins had been right there and his sloppy questioning at the diner had cost him the opportunity to bring them in.
New Iberia Police Station, Pyrenees System, Humboldt Quadrant, Gemini Sector 2669.003
This will satisfy our confrontation encounter - a police questioning.
The Plan: Falsify a disruptor pistol license on his personal computer and convince the police that Collins is wanted by police in another sector - hopefully playing on their sense of justice that bad cops ruin the reputation of all cops. I’m not aware that Kell is a hacker so I’m going to call that a formidable check. Otherwise Kell’s plan is not particularly risky - he’s telling the truth.
- Kell Barban. A formidable Tech throw to hack his personal computer:
- (TN 11+): [5,5]+1 = 11 (E0) success!
It is a “controlled” plan throw:
- (TN 6+): [4,3]+1 = 8 success!
- with a good consequence:
- The task took half the expected time
Well, well. Doubles & a success on the hacking throw - maybe Kell is more adept with Computers than I thought. The benefit of taking less time initially gave me pause … but then I thought that combined with the getting a lead bonus from earlier I think it makes sense. They buy into Kell’s play and quickly work to pass on information they find. Collins is headed for 1-2 Freyja, 3-4 Troy, 5-6 CM-N1054 1d6:  = 6
“Ok, Mr. Barban. Your records check out.” the officer slides the disruptor pistol and personal computer back over to Kell. “I can also provide you with these; we pulled up facial recognition records from our starport cameras. The subject was observed leaving aboard a ship headed for CM-N1054.”
“CM-N1054… there’s nothing out there.”
“It was registered as a scouting vessel.”
Three area movement checks: 3d6: [4, 5, 5] No encounters.
Kell grabbed the infochit and his belongings. Leaving the police station he took the public transit back to his ship. He’d refuel, take his chances, and jump out CM-N1054.
Again “The Plan” has served me well. In game, IIRC, there’s really not much in the CM-N1054 system but I do remember heading there for a few missions and encountering “the Retros.” Retros are a radical offshoot of an in-game religious institution that want to return mankind to a purely agrarian existence with minimal technology. Maybe Collins has a connection to the Retros… or has joined them?
Kell’s hack of his personal computer was a surprise, I fully expected to lose the disruptor pistol right then and there. Maybe his specialty in the army was some kind of field communication operations. On the other Kell’s poor detective skills are less surprising - he’s not trained in anything relevant as far as I know.
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