Derelicts of the Frontier

jedion357's picture
jedion357
April 6, 2015 - 4:48pm
With the 3rd Ships of the Frontier article in the works for issue 12 (Trafalgar Lines) its time to think about lining up some more articles. Ships of Trans Travel will be getting worked on but I thought a brain storm thread for derelicts would be interesting. Ideas can be rip offs from entertainment and literature or history.

Cannon material suggest that hundreds of exploration vessels have been lost and in particular 32 of them in the Mores Nebula (lesser or major I have to look which- its in Zebs time line somewhere). Based on this at least 2 of the derelicts ought to be exploration craft. For simplicity at least one ought to be a civilian version of the assault scout which gives us a readily available deck plan.

I believe there was a scenario in both WoWL and the Referee's Screen involving misbehaving computer controlled ships complete with robotic opponents for the PCs to shoot up. This would be another class of derelict though its not typical in that these ships are still operating after a fashion.

The point of a derelict is for the PCs to explore it thus we need deck plans and the easiest thing to do here is to reference deck plans that were published in the SFman or FE or were part of the KHs box set (Assault scout and 2 freighters) so lets see if we can match an exisitng deck plan to a derelict idea. Of course if you feel like working up a deckplan have at it.

Things to find on the ship:
1. mysterious dangerous cargo
2. Crew surving in cold storage berths and or freeze fields
3. alien life surving on the ship somehow
4. records of where the ship has been with some promise of reward if the PCs run this down
5. treasure/ reward on ship (this could be the SF equiv of a troll cave - quick session of play with opposition and reward)
6. ?

I'd like to come up with 3-4 derelicts. Each would have a bit of history and or legend on when and how it went missing, some notes on what might be discovered on the ship and an exisiting deck plan a prospective referee could refere to (something previously published)
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!
Comments:

jedion357's picture
jedion357
April 6, 2015 - 5:11pm
The case of Shuttle 66

Trans Travel small freighter Nebula Dancer radioed the discovery of a McCameroom Class shuttle adrift (Registery: PGC S66) with a survivor in a cold storage travel berth. The name of the shuttle is not initially recognized but latter when the crew of the Nebula Dancer stop responding to radio messages a detailed records search turns up a 20 year old mystery- that this particular shuttle was a PGC owned runabout carrying an EVP that disappeared 20 years ago.

PCs could be dispatched by TT or PGC to investigate or they could be Royal Marines and this scenario would be a WoWL 2.0 encounter or a variety of other set ups for the PCs.

The PGC EVP was the survivor but he is quite mad and ate the crew of his shuttle and has survived on emergency power in a cold storage pod till someone boards the shuttle and discovers him. He tells a tale engineering catastrophes and his desperate survival with rewards for his rescuers upon his return to PGC. He then turns on his rescuers  and kills/overpowers them/ adds them to his supplies (he is a cannible) then he  strips their ship of fuel and supplies and programs it for a course toward the local star.

PCs find the small freighter with transpoder disabled on course toward the local star. There is a lot of blood like animals were butchered but no bodies though genetic material accounts for all of the listed crew. cabins were ransacked and it seems obviousl that some supplies were taken. PCs can back plot the ship's course to the point where its course was changed to head it into the sun. From that point they can do a search for the shuttle. By radio they can request data on other ships found like this with apparently butcher crews and the ship on course for the sun which will turn up one other instance of the local militia having found a mining ship (the Belt Hound) that appeared to have suffered the same fate as the Nebula Dancer and another freighter (Ixxel's Trader) that was observed during its final approach to the sun suggesting that something has been happening in this system for a long period of time.

The mad PGC canibal eats his victims and when supplies run low he sets the shuttle to conserve power and goes into cold storage till his ship is found again. When the PCs catch up with him they will find butchered bodies "on ice" and raving mad man that will not come peacably. they may even need to disable the shuttle with weapons fire. use the small freighter from KHs and the McCameron shuttle from Frontier Explorer #2.

Probably easily run in 1 or at most 2 session.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
April 6, 2015 - 6:43pm
Available Deck Plans:

Frontier Explorer
1. CSS Nightwind FE#1
2. McCameron Class shuttle FE2 (look for it in the Sci Con's I & II report)
3. E-1A Eorna heavy fighter FE #3
4. Dawn Trader class light freighter FE#3
5. Assualt Scout remastered in FE #5 but also in KHs box set
6. Pasenger Liner FE#9
7. Red Thunder FE #9
8. NGT-1000 FE #9
8. Alpha Scout FE#11

Star Frontiersman
1. East Indiaman medium freighter SFman #6
2. Explorer Class Heavy Scout SFman #8
3. Jump Tug SFman #9
4. TSSS Dart SFman #11
5. RT-3100 Merchant Scout SFman #11
6. TT-456 Container Ship SFman #13 (shadow shacks take on the small freighter from KHs)
7. Corsair Container SFman #13 (turn a container ship into a Q Ship carrier)
8. S200 Assault Shuttle SFman #13
9. Corsair fighter SFman #13
10. Christianna Class Torpedo Frigate SFman #13 (has detailed deck descriptions but lacks a proper deck plan)
11. Junk Ship Sfman #13 (unmanned robotic ship no real deckplan)
12. UPF Meteor Class Assault Shuttle SFman #16 (great pics but no real deck plan but easily fudged)
13. Streel Raven Class Corvette Sfman #17
14. Able Hand SFman #18 (no real Deck plan)
15. Cloverdale class Ag ship SFman #18 (cross section of decks but no deck plan)
16. Rasor & Star Hawk classes Assault scouts SFman #20 (1 deck plan for both)
17. Pacific Class Freighter SFman #21 (Shadows update of the Dramune Run Ship)
18. UPF Leviathan SFman #21 (stats and drawing only- HS 20 ship)
19. Constellation Class star liner SFman #22 (cross section and detailed deck plan)
20. Embecker Dance star liner SFman #24


Cannon Source Deck plans
1. Assault Scout:  Knight Hawks
2. Small & Large Freighters: inside cover of Warriors of White Light - Knight Hawks boxed set
3. Dramune Run
4. Mutiny on the Eleanor Mores
5. 2001 A Space Odessy
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Tollon's picture
Tollon
April 6, 2015 - 7:07pm
Missed 1: Frontier Explorer #9  NGT-1000

jedion357's picture
jedion357
April 6, 2015 - 7:15pm
Tollon wrote:
Missed 1: Frontier Explorer #9  NGT-1000


Added it now, thanks.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

RanulfC's picture
RanulfC
April 7, 2015 - 3:57pm
Semi-aside and teaser; Going to have to look at my notes but I will always recall a player who's "goal" in every single sci-fi game was the same:
Locate the lost and legendary starship "Sometimes A Lady" for which his explination when asked "What's that?" was always the same; "That's YOUR job buddy" :)

I had a sketch for the ship for Traveller, and a partial written description of a seed of an idea, (yep about that vague as well :) ) for SF...

Lost yacht carrying a supposed treasure that never returned from the Void... at least not where anyone was looking :)

Randy

Jaxon's picture
Jaxon
May 4, 2015 - 7:38am
Hey Jedion. Try: "PGCS Aurora" or "Is Anyone Home?" (and Fair Trader pdf)

http://www.starfrontiers.us/downloads/7009

Aurora is a Megacorp sends out a team (with lovely hightech dodads) to find out what happened to their Scientific Research Vessel. The team goes and ...well it's like Aliens 2.

Is Anyone Home? - the Zuraqqor reprogram (maybe via a virus), the robots aboard the Fair Winds, a Fair Trader class Merchant vessel. The robots space the crew and passengers and coast through space. The ship has chemical engines so it drifted for decades or hundreds of years from Dixon's Star or possibly the Cassidine system. GVMPI secretly sends a team to board the vessel and get it operational. They are to claim it on behalf of GVMPI and get it returned to port.

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
May 4, 2015 - 8:28pm
How about a famous lost explorer type scenario (the Amelia Earhart scenario) some one who did chart all sorts of Jump Routes in the early days and just vanished... what if there ship was found 

How about a very old Sathar derelict is found adrift... all the crew seemingly missing, things left in place but untouched, is it booby trapped, what happened to the crew, is it a trap, an experiment gone wrong, a bio-hazard, crazy AI, did crew murder each other & if so why... I am thinking Vampire Planet (non-corporal sentient intelligences take over people to get their species to a planet to colonize in host bodies, (could be a parasite that is in hibernation all the time the ship is adrift), but the Sathar killed themselves before reaching a populated world but where unable to destroy their ship only sabotage it... so the hitchhiking badies are still on board and need a populated planet to gradually breed on and take over the bodies of the host species).
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 5, 2015 - 3:26am
I like the Amelia Earhart angle since there were a lot of exploration ships lost. In the real world though as much as they think they have found the resting place of Amelia Earhart it continues to remain a mystery and perhaps the same should be true in the Frontier. Perhaps part of the motivation is that her Grandfather is a retired mega-corp exec and has a standing reward for her being found- 1 millions credits.

So to keep it a mystery you would have to play shell game. Her ship suffered a problem and someone else found it who was also having a problem and but fixed her ship enough to try to return to the Frontier.
Or the sathar got her and the guy using her ship now is a sathar agent who is trying to remain quiet about it and not draw too much attention.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
Jaxon
May 5, 2015 - 4:22am
I have one that the PCs are captured by the Sathar. They come across an alien ship and send over a boarding party but, they are killed. So, the Sathar send over the prisoners (PCs). They turn on the derelict but, it has an AI computer, Nell. It blasts away and the adventure begins.

It's kind of like Blake-7.

iggy's picture
iggy
May 6, 2015 - 10:01am
I like the Earhart idea as well.  It should be a famous captain and his crew on a famous ship.  They made their fame charting dozens of jump routes and discovering a few unique astronomical wonders, crystal planets, stellar electromagnetic jets, methane life, etc.  That fame gets them funding to explore the vast expanse and they make see several successful missions charting the vast expanse.  The look to be the team capable of crossing the vast expanse and the media plays up a great multi jump crossing they have developed.  Of course they make two legs of the jumps into the expanse with great holovid transmissions back from their waypoints, one of which is an astronomical wonder, then they are never heard from again.  Many go searching but none ever go beyond the second waypoint.  Nothing is ever found.  Rumors and conspiracies develop that they were waylayed but government, mega-corporations, sathar, etc.   There are even claims of sighting the ship and crew elsewhere in the frontier.  Some even say they took the media's money and are living the good life or that it was a media stunt.

This could really add some back story and color to a campaign. 
-iggy

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
May 6, 2015 - 6:56pm
I am thinking about an explorer named Tomar... as an NPC in a pre Frontier timeline setting, his team & himself would have actually made it to Voltunus at some point as the Horse is named after him... maybe Zebulon had to rediscover the route? At some point Tomar and company vanish. 

Everyone likes a few good mysteries... 

Wink 


 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 8, 2015 - 4:44pm
Tchklinxa wrote:
I am thinking about an explorer named Tomar... as an NPC in a pre Frontier timeline setting, his team & himself would have actually made it to Voltunus at some point as the Horse is named after him... maybe Zebulon had to rediscover the route? At some point Tomar and company vanish. 

Everyone likes a few good mysteries... 

Wink 





Tomar was part of the crew on Captain Zebulon's freighter when it misjumped into Zebulon system.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

KRingway's picture
KRingway
May 12, 2015 - 6:35am
One question that arises from these sorts of ideas is how the ships are detected. Can we assume that they're found by system ships, rather than anything going faster? I ask as anything using FTL doesn't have any means of slowing down to stop and investigate a derelict, and AFAIK can't detect it either unless it's travelling at some much reduced speed (i.e. initial acceleration/decceleration).

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
May 12, 2015 - 5:45pm
I imagine it would usually be because someone is either specifically looking for the ship and has a few clues, or it is accidentally discovered and drifts to where others see it, comes out of void, found wreckage on a planet, drifting with asteroids, crashed on a large asteroid, becomes captured by a suns' gravity and becomes an orbiting body in that system, maybe a comet turns out to be a ship at the core: so probes, exploration ships, system ships, science vessels. Maybe faint black box type signal located. 
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 13, 2015 - 6:01am
I think you'd get radar returns by ships in accel/decel phases of a void jump journey, A ship on Accel can't do anything about a radar return as the time involved in setting up a void jump is significant thus they will maintain flight profile unless there is a threat. A ship on Decel could choose to investigate but might require quite a bit of time to dump speed and manuever for an intercept. Of course the useful range for radar makes finding a derelict a total crap shoot roll of the die or referee fiat. If there is an energy source on the ship then energy sensors might pick it up. System ships and militia ships would have a higher likelihood of spotting a derelict. but also ground or station observers might spot something with just a telescope.

With greater resources, Frontier societies might task a level 5 or 6 robotic brain to maintain a "Sky Watch" for potential asteroid threats to inhabited planets. Such a system could spot a derelict and request an investigation. Or a low level tech is checking the logs on the sky watch system and sees that the system spotted something but since it ruled out that it was an asteroid threat it did not report it to the proper authorities. The tech beleives it to be a derelict ship, perhaps he even has a theory about what ship it could be and delusions of getting rich quick are born.

Perhaps the sathar have taken a Frontier ship that is presumed to be lost in the area and carefully rigged/programed its atomic drives to self destruct and set it on a course for Clarion station. Sky Watch initially spots it but rules it out as a threat and does not report it. as the ship gets closer the robotic brain decides it might be a threat and logs the boggie with the militia that dispatch an assault scout. Due to the speed of the vessel shooting it out of space would put a cloud of shrapnel on a collision course with the station and thru crowded space lanes. and perhaps the militia's frigate with its grapnels is too far to intervene quickly or the PCs must commandeer a jump tug or somesuch.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
May 13, 2015 - 9:51am
I'd that most ships have a transponder that logs the flight data for emergency situations and broadcasts a ping on a regular schedule.  This can be turned off on military ships but everyone else keeps it on as good practice or even law.  When a ship goes down it has it's own power supply and can broadcast for many years.  This is likely how derelicts are logged.  However because spatial location is hard without triangulation, ships outside of a system's heliosphere positioning system  (i.e.GPS for space) are hard to triangulate.  So there would be records of Earheart's transponder pings  that are very faint and seariouly time lagged but impossible to triangulate that would fuel the fortune and conspiracy hunters. 
-iggy

KRingway's picture
KRingway
May 14, 2015 - 1:02am
If the ping was also broadcast via subspace, it might help with lag.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
May 14, 2015 - 6:55am
Subspace broadcast probably isn't likely as it's too power intensive.  A single subspace broadcast takes 100 SEUs and it's directional.  An emergency beacon might store enough to do that once but it might take a sophsitcated systemt to get the pointing right in an emergency.  And packing in more power than that probably isn't practial.  Most likely it just uses a standard radio beacon.

As to radar, I always felt that sensors in gerneral were under-powered in the game.  I think their reasoning was that 300,000 km is the distance covered by radio waves in a second so that something on the edge would take 2 seconds to get a return.  Plus putting out that much power in three dimensions takes a lot of energy.  I've heard stories (don't know if they are true) that the AGEIS radar on navy warships, which don't reach nearly that far (300,000 km is almost to the moon), can fry birds that fly in front of it.

In any case, in a passive mode, the radar systems on most ships should be able to detect emitted signals for millions of kilometers, if not 10's or 100's of milliions
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Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
May 15, 2015 - 4:44am
There are a lot of tech myths... some true, some bogus. I am not sure about AGEIS frying birds or not... I will poke around on that. 
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 15, 2015 - 11:39am
Any number of reasons why a transponder is not working: battle damage, sabotage, intential disabling, loss of power.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
May 16, 2015 - 11:07pm
I have pondered on flight recorders for interstellar space craft in SF for the past few days.  The only time that omnidirectional radio wave broadcasts are useful is when the device knows it is inside a system colonized by the the core 4 or the rim 3.  Anywhere else and you have no one to receive the message or those that are there may not be able to read your radio signal.  Also, a directional sub-space transmission is power prohibitive, hard to align, and in enemy territory tells where you are and where your friend is.  This would be a fact that frontier engineers have long ago worked out the solution for.  Here is what I think they would have ended up designing.

The flight recorder black box is going to have to be the size of a small satellite.  It will have to have it's own power supply, radio and subspace capabilities, an attitude control system, and a constant link to the ships navigation system.  The flight recorder is designed to survive a destructive event and be ejected intact.  The device is actually a log buoy as well.  

When the buoy is ejected it immediately starts logging the time from eject and logs the changing star patterns and uses sensors of solar / galactic wind, gravitation, etc. to determine its new velocity vector and spin.  It does not attempt to transmit from some set amount of time until it know that it is safe from the catastrophic ship event and the surroundings.  In a civilian application this is seconds to minutes to be sure that the device is away from any debris field.  The buoy then jettisons its protective covers, spin stabilizes and then does attitude adjustment to best align its antennae to transmit a distress message before going into a low power broadcast mode.  It the navigation system prior to the event was telling the buoy that it is in a radio receptive system such as a major frontier star then it will broadcast an omnidirectional distress message with the last navigation coordinates it logged from the ship followed by its current time from eject and its velocity vector.  If it is out of an established star system then it will follow this with a subspace message directed at the star system last logged by the ship's navigation computer as the emergency receiver.  It will then power down to a sleep mode and recharge until it is powerful enough to broadcast again.  The point of this methodology is that it is not practice for the buoy to expect to be able to alter it's course to follow the majority of the ship's debris.  Rather it is more practical to keep good track of it's own location and a good log of how long it's been on its course so that rescuers can work backwards to find the wrecks point of origin.

The military and hostile territory twist on this operation is that the buoy will remain in a stealth like mode for potentially a long time trying to appear as debris so that it can go unnoticed and get out of danger before broadcasting and going stealth again by trying to appear as debris.  This may even involve reintroducing a bit of spin to look like tumbling debris.

Most spacers know that the buoys are more an aid to recover property and log events than to save lives.  Space is so vast that the chances of getting found are astronomical.  The best bet is a freeze field in a life boat, not the buoy.  In an established system there are space guard patrols that follow the established routes monitoring for buoy signals and life boat signals.  These ships are augmented by nets of deep space satellites that relay and triangulate distress signals.  Here there is a chance to be saved in a life boat.  Away from these systems the odds on getting saved are nearly none so most military and exploration ships follow a strict reporting schedule to home or when resources or circumstances allow they go out in pairs.

Our intrepid early explorers, including Mrs Earhart, were pioneering these modern communication practices and so there are many instances where the communications from the explorers are flawed leaving us with doubts about the proper locations and times that the messages were sent.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 17, 2015 - 3:28am
@ Iggy: I like that and honestly we should take that post, clean it up, and submit it as a one to two page new KHs equipment to the zine. Call it the "Starship Emergency Bouy" SEB and put a price on it that is that of an escape pod plus an atmo-probe and we'll see if there is an image from AZ gamer that we can use as an illustration.

Include a description of how an emergency broadcast would be recieve or in other words present a sample broadcast that would be given to the PCs for A. a core system broadcast and B a beyond the Frontier broadcast to aid a referee using this as a plot hook.

It should perhaps have a feature where a searching ship can travel to the local and make a omni-directional broadcast which triggers the bouy into coming out of sleep mode and going active for easier location.

Simple skill action to back track to its POE, point of ejection (no skill check). however at the POE its now a skill check to locate the wreckage. With a new skill check possible every 5 hours (assume a search pattern and the longer the search goes on the more likely it succeeds - add a modifier to the skill check).
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
May 17, 2015 - 2:10pm
@jedion, Stop tempting me!  I can't resist.

I've been kicking this idea around since the thread started because I want to detail the realities more.  I've suspected it would turn into an article after we discuss all the angles to it here.

I also want to develop some mythology about some early explorer modeled after Earhart and mixed in with some other adventurer stereotypes, as it is a lost exploration ship it is a charismatic mythical captain and his/her renouned crew, not just one person.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 17, 2015 - 6:07pm
iggy wrote:
@jedion, Stop tempting me!  I can't resist.

I've been kicking this idea around since the thread started because I want to detail the realities more.  I've suspected it would turn into an article after we discuss all the angles to it here.

I also want to develop some mythology about some early explorer modeled after Earhart and mixed in with some other adventurer stereotypes, as it is a lost exploration ship it is a charismatic mythical captain and his/her renouned crew, not just one person.


When I worked on the system breif for Scree Fron, I decided since the timeline listed a bunch of exploration ships missing in the nebula between Scree Fron and Zebulon that most of them must have gone out of Scree Fron and that there would be a memorial there to those lost crews. In fact Scree Fron is actually well placed to be the jumping off place for exploration expeditions. 

So.... Earhart must have started out of Scree Fron? and she is immortalized on that spire monument?

EDIT: the Scree Fron brief is in FE9
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
May 17, 2015 - 9:36pm
I was thinking of Earhart having been lost exploring the vast expanse.  Nothing is much bigger and badder.  Its kinda the biggest ocean to cross. 
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 18, 2015 - 2:54am
iggy wrote:
I was thinking of Earhart having been lost exploring the vast expanse.  Nothing is much bigger and badder.  Its kinda the biggest ocean to cross. 

works for me, she'll still be memorialized at the Spirit of Exploration memorial and museum on Hakosaur.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
May 19, 2015 - 6:02pm
This is really good guys, iggy awesome bouy idea.

There are tons of missing explorers in RL many where from very famous/rich families or just missing military stuff or missing ships:

Examples:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermuda_Triangle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lost_expeditions

Michael Rockerfeller

The Ellen Austin story is a good derlict ship story from the Triangle


 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

Stibbons's picture
Stibbons
May 22, 2015 - 11:31am
There are some good resources for this on the Drivethrurpg site. "Derelict Starships" from Tabletop Adventures has lots of nice descriptive passages, there are also derelict encounters in other systems to act as a guideline or inspiration, the Solar Echoes Mission "Derelict" and "Tales from Deep Space" for ICE's SpaceMaster. There's even an audio product simply called "Derelict Starship" for that background ambiance. Of course there's also the Sathar Destroyer Technical Guide as well, that was supposed to have been a derelict. 

For blocking out a ship or station without recourse to deckplans there are these Mapping Card things from The Australian Wizard, the "General", "Spaceship" and Orbital Station" sets in particular (and they're "pay what you want"). These are good combined with some modular deckplans from a guy called ProBono on the RPG Mapshare site. http://rpgmapshare.com/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=27635&g2_page=3 (probably better for stations than starships given the need for vertical decks).
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