Colony Outpost brianstorm thread

jedion357's picture
November 25, 2013 - 7:18am
I've been doing a lot of thinking in terms of using resources that exist for writing adventures like the assault scout deck plans I used in the recent solo adventure : the Albatross. So it occured to me that doing a colony outpost adventure where the PCs would be the initial survey team and then set up team and latter the trouble shooters would allow you to use /reuse the diridgible and lander from Ellanor Mores, the out post and later the town map from AD and even the skylab series stations being uploaded recently that I encouraged the author to submit to the zine. What remains is to write the adventure outline and and set it in the timeline. Should it be a new colony outpost set in the default setting or be the story of the start of the colony on Minotaur or Lossend or similar? Place in the tineline is important as it impacts what you write for the adventure outline and what equipment is avaialbe. For example first contact with dralasite and vrusks could be a part of one while not the other.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
November 25, 2013 - 8:51am
One question is how do you make the science side of exploration exciting? The atmo survey, geo scans, weather analysis and etc. I suppose you could do this as a solo pick your path adventure like the Albatross and have a blank survey report and the character is on a time schedule to fill the report before a certain time limit (like the Albatross) at various points in the adventure the PC gets to role (skill check) for information he can add to the report. Exp and bonus exp are awarded for % of report filled out. Or player has a team if NPCs he can assign to various actions each day and these npcs get skill checks for info that gets added to survey report. Tables could be used for random results meaning each run through is different.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 25, 2013 - 10:33am
These was something I glossed over. A few skill rolls and a time leap forward, due to the time required to process the surveys. It was important and my PCs knew it because, the percentage of the payout for the total survey was based on contribution. So the Enviromentalist did the atmo survey and geo samples, the pilot and navigator did the mapping, the doctor did testing of the atmo and flora/fauna for medical issues, etc. Weapons personnel and engineers helped with prepping probes and landers, etc; so it was a team effort. 

Yes, the rules state that an Enviromentalist reads the Atmo & Remote probes, the Landing Drone and Lab information but, I do not agree with that completely. A medic/doctor can read some of the information. As for mapping, that is a pilot and navigator. Plus, people are needed to reload the drones into launch tubes, recover the drones, go to the planet if needed to take samples or explore ruins, etc. I set time table, say 70 hours to map the planet, and the team determines how to get there ~ that is 7 - 10 hour days. The Pilot and Navigator split it into 5 hour shifts each day. Then the pilot can help the engineer with overhauling the engines (say 45 hours). The Navigator in his off time starts plotting a course back home...say 7 light years away - 70 hours. The players put together a list with me, we make the needed skill rolls and skipped ahead to the action!

Dragon magazine has an article "The Whole-Earth Ecology" that helps with this new world designs. Also, "Expanding the Frontier" has new equipment in this AOR...

To explore a star system and its planets efficiently, three new pieces of equipment need to be introduced. These new items are the Radar Mapper (RM), the Planetary Scanning System (PSS), and a special Planetary and Star System Exploration (PSSE) computer program.

The RM package contains both a special attachment for a ship's radar system and a special computer program. The whole package costs 15,000 Cr, and it cannot be rented. The computer program is considered to be level 2 and takes 12 function points. The RM package produces an accurate relief map of a planet's surface, using the ship's computer and special program. It takes 1d10+5 GST days to produce this map while the ship orbits a given world. Pilot expertise may speed things along; subtract the pilot's skill rating from the number of days needed to make the map. It always takes a minimum of three days of checking and rechecking to map a world accurately.

The PSS package consists of a special sensor attached to the outside of the ship's hull and a special computer program. The sensor itself is too small to affect a ship's ADF or MR. The computer program is level 3 and takes up 25 function points. The whole package costs 50,000 Cr, and it cannot be rented. Like the MR system, the PSS is used while the ship is in orbit.

The sensor scans and photographs the planet, feeding the data into the computer. The special computer program uses the data to forecast the planet's climate and general weather patterns, and to pinpoint areas where one is likely to find deposits of mineral ore. Colonization sites may be located, and evidence of existing civilizations may be found. Natural hazards, such as volcanoes, fault lines, geysers, swamps, waterfalls, landslide zones, and so forth may also be detected. Energy sources such as natural radioactive ores and artificial power stations may be found, too.

To find out how many days of orbiting it takes to get a complete scan of the planet, roll 2d10+8. This roll cannot be reduced by the pilot's skill level, as bad weather (obscuring details of the ground) is beyond his control.

The Planetary and Star System Exploration (PSSE) computer program is considered to be level 3 and takes up 35 function points. This special program data-links the computer to all the equipment used to explore and classify star systems and their planets. This includes the geoscanners, vaporscanners, bioscanners, the RM and PSS components, atmoprobes, laboratory equipment, landing drones, remote probes, energy sensors, and any special information typed in by the characters. The program correlates all the data from these sources and organizes it into a hardcopy Star System and Planetary File. The characters must have this information for ground exploration they perform.

These articles are a BIG help! Especially "Expanding the Frontier"

jedion357's picture
November 25, 2013 - 10:47am
Yeah, nuts and bolts of exploration will be pretty much the same no matter when. The big issue is when to set this? Early in history or during the default time. Early in history means an existing planet on the map- Minotaur or Lossend and humans only PCs whereas default setting is a whole new planet not on the map and anything goes with even the sathar potentially being part of the adventure.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 25, 2013 - 10:59am
I like default. With the Baloff system - I set the basic information and placed it near Liberty. They are isolated so no run ins with the Saurians and Mhemne or Sathar. But, it would explain that Pion engines is a design stemming from that sector with the T'Pak in that area as well.

I was perplexed....a system called Hope is near Outpost One on one map I have but, no information on it. Also the expanded map showing Sathar homeworlds and other Empires, etc; is missing some of the key ~ what are the dark purple planets? Federation? Also, I wish there were some articles discussing the other races, planets, etc - like the Omega Federation, Ghana Coalition, planets: Watch Tower, Beta Psi, G'nish'raa (Sathar) and Izz'skitt (Zuraqquor).

jedion357's picture
November 25, 2013 - 11:14am
My knee jerk reaction is a world without a new sapient species as I feel there are to many too closely packed into so small an area. So for default setting I'm not sure if I'd specify a specific location for tge world and let gms slot it in where they like unless I was going to include one of the existing races in the adventure the I'd give some thought to astro geography.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
November 25, 2013 - 11:16am
A planet with established species becomes a first cintact negotiation while one with no sapient species is still about exploration. I greatly prefer for this to be a straight up exploration, though pirates could be involved.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 25, 2013 - 6:14pm
Yes, well what I provide can be used, moved or deleted. I just provided a suggestion for where I put them.

You are right about the space being too cramped, though.

As for first contact vs exploration - I have it as exploration until the team gets to about the forth planet. They have four planets and 58 moons to cover before they get to Ursid. So this can occupy their time.

Why did the Ursidans not detect them? They are pre-Void - limited detection.
Why did the PCs not detect the energy emissions? glitch.

So it is an exploration turned to first contact.

BUT it gives a lot of opporunities. What if the PCs have all the info on the outer system? Why not sell it to the Ursidans? Maybe make more money. What if some of the planets and moons have resources? Do they sell that info to the Corps? Do they come back and mine it themselves? Do they go 50/50 with a Ursidan miner?

I mean there is a lot of possibilities.

jedion357's picture
November 25, 2013 - 7:46pm
I think I'll go with default setting. It allows for some many possibilities (even if I'm intrigued with adventures in history)

Set up can be flexible- the colonizing charter can come from a megacorp, planetary government or even a smaller group like an ethnic group.

the Exploration stuff is not going to be high stakes or feel super threatening to the players even if a "bug" is threatening to kill them all with the next big thing in plague like infections. thus the adventure needs to have the stakes increased or ramped up by some threat. Possibilities could be pirates, sathar, zuraquor, alien artifact, xenomorph like threat, threat from nature- super nova or super volcano, asteroid impact.

what would be at stake could be the destruction of the planet, star system or Frontier as we know it.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 26, 2013 - 2:04pm
or place the PCs in a position where they could cause a war between two races, they could bring in Corporations that force the extinction of one of the races or degrade their standard of living, etc. It's a balancing act that could leave them as they are, bring them into the UPF or result in the two races fighting until one or both are destroyed.

jedion357's picture
November 26, 2013 - 3:15pm
Corporate conflict over resources or discoveries at the new planet. This could lead to espionage type encounters and investigations.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 27, 2013 - 10:51pm
I could see a team trying to cash in on a gold mine and something like Streel or PGC just muscling in. I mean 5 or 10 PCs vs the resources of a Mega Corp.

Tchklinxa's picture
November 28, 2013 - 11:05am
Do not forget good old fashion abandoned planets. In RL many mines where once operating in my state but in WWII they where ordered shut down, they filled with water, this makes them expensive to reopen on top of that the state started seizing illegaly property mines where on from people who inherited the land (they knew who could afford to fight and who could not). Thus there are mines worth millions if ever operational again just sitting, but the cost of making them operation has to be less then what is expected to be mined for the investors who where powerful enough to fight the state. There could be abandonded mining operations to which the PC colonists are planning to reopen legally or not? Also a colony could think they where the first to a planet and find out not exactly... where they find large amounts of artifacts of UPF origin purposely dumped into a gourge, but 0 public historical data exists on what happened. Is there an old colony or base if so is anything left or was the place leveled? Did anyone survive? What or who killed everyone? Is it a threat? Will some agency in the UPF become a threat to the colony if they know the colonist found the site? 
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
November 28, 2013 - 4:58pm
What if the tetrarchs quarried the planet 10,000 years ago and no one realized this since 10,000 years is a long time and errosions and nature has obscured the evidence.

More recently a scout ship scouted the system and reported nothing of value geologically but the geologist on that crew lied and sold the real data to pirates that ran a small mining operation using slaves to recover high grade radio- active material that was brought to Out Reach and processed for atomic fuel (the Malthar getting his cut) and into weapons grade material for torpedoes. After all an honest pirate needs to replace his nuclear torpedoes some where and Space Fleet and Star Law would undoubtably have something to say about the purchase of nuclear torpedoes on the open market. (or the resource is the mythical federanium which must be very valuable).

The pirate leader was killed in a show down with space fleet or a militia and the crew standing guard on the mine eventually ran out of supplies and killed the slaves, dumping their bodies into a mass grave. When they returned to Dark World station something went down and their ship was siezed by the Malthar or some other pirate lord. [hence the reason they have not returned but there is the potential for them to return as a few people out there know about the mine]

Then came a mis jumped ship. Who's astrogator had a strong science background and did some extra scans from orbit and kept quiet about what he found, not mentioning his finding to the rest of the crew. Once back in the Frontier he looked up the originial survey results and realized that the survey team that first scouted the system had either missed or not reported the interesting scans he had detected. Working with family or friends he trusted raised money to purchase the charter for colonizing the planet. No one has bothered with this system since the first explorer report was falsified and no one thought the system held value. Potentially this colony is a collection various groups looking for a fresh start- some are religious dissidents looking for new ground away from harrassment (yazirian monks leaving behind the influence of FO1. Everyone contributed to the endeavor.

Thus 99% of the colony doesn't know about the rich mineral finds.

and a few greedy people are looking to cash in secretly

1. Pirates could come looking with an expectation that this is there world
2. Ancient ruins and all that entials
3. crazy escaped slave living as a hermit in the wilderness
4. Mega corps could come looking to muscle in on the resources as word starts to leak out.
5. Charter agency could come back and say the charter was purchased under fraudulent circumstances so that the colony mush vacate or pay a steep fine to keep the charter (this could be a mega corp ploy to snatch the charter for this planet banking on the colony not being able to pay the fee/fine heck they might even hire pirates to ensure that the ship delivering the money/resources for the fee doesn't make it)

Then there are the dangerous animals.

PCs are the colony trouble shooters.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 29, 2013 - 12:02am
WOW! Nice, I like it. I would have it on an inhospitable planet to top it off.

jedion357's picture
November 29, 2013 - 11:20am
Jaxon wrote:
WOW! Nice, I like it. I would have it on an inhospitable planet to top it off.

At the most I would make it semi inhospitable. I want it to be someplace people would want to colonize.

Or only inhospitable in the sense that there are dangers in the environment like a dangerous organism whether plant or animal.

Remember the escaped slave/crazy hermit has to be able to live there for several years without any real tech support.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 29, 2013 - 8:49pm
Yes, well I'm working on it - near Madderly's Star. I made it inhospitalable BUT, I believe several things can still make the mad hermit idea work ~

1) If most of the slaves and pirates were killed, supplies could last longer; ex: 3 months of supplies for 30 pirates and 100 slaves will feed and provide water for 5 pirates for for 5 or 6 years!

2) what if they discover some tech of the Ancients or an old domicile that has the ability to provide air, water, etc?

3)A frozen planet like Pluto would have some form of water. Now, if the pirates have a type of distiller - they have water and made air. Food could be made into soup or stew and stretched longer.

4) what if a ship crashed there and they raided it?

5) the Wild Men could raid the colony for supplies

6) don't forget the Sathar - did they find the men? Are they agents? Did the Sathar leave them there as a listening post and just provide periodic supply drops?

And even with a planet that has a temp of -100* C and no atmosphere - there still can be life on the planet: fungus, hull scrapers, crystals and more. It is just not life as we know. And it still can be dangerous.

Jaxon's picture
December 6, 2013 - 12:23am
FYI...some info on the Frontier:

Planets/Moons & Systems


Hentz, Araks                             Y, HI

Yast, Athor                               Y, MA

*Exhib, Athor                            Y, MA

Rupert’s Hole, Cassidine            H, MIA

Triad, Cassidine                        Mixed, HI

*Evergleem, Cassadine              Mixed, O (Triad)

Laco, Dixon’s Star                     H, O

Inner Reach, Dramune                D, MAI

Outer Reach, Dramune               Mixed, MIR

Groth, Fromeltar                        D, LA 

Terledrom, Fromeltar                 D/V, HI

Hargut, Gruna Garu                    Y, HR

*Trefrom, Gruna Garu                 Y, O, R

Ken’zah Kit, K’aken-Kar              V, MA

Zik’kit, Kizk-Kar                         V, MIR

Kawdl-Kit, K’tsa-Kar                   V/H, LMA

Kdikit, Madderly’s Star              H, MIA

Gran Quivera, Prenglar               Mixed, HI

Morgaine’s World, Prenglar        H, O

Histran, Scree Fron                    Y, O

Hakosoar, Scree Fron                Y, LAI

Minotaur, Theseus                     H, HI

Lossend, Timeon                       H, LFI

Pale, Truane’s Star                    Mixed, MIR

New Pale, Truane’s Star H, LA

Gollywog, White Light                H, HR


H – Heavy Population, M – Moderate Population, L – Light Population, O – Outpost or Colony

I – Industry, R – Resource Mining, A – Agriculture

*= moon


Yazirian Languages

Argonian - (Hentz - Family of One)

Garnosh - (Athor)

Jaxon's picture
December 7, 2013 - 8:27am
New info on planets - it may help.

iggy's picture
December 7, 2013 - 10:05am
@Jaxon,  Thanks for posting this.  I find this inspiring.  Nice to know that there are new mysteries for us and that we don't have theories that answer everything.

TerlObar's picture
December 7, 2013 - 10:43am
Except that that thing is more likely to be a Brown Dwarf, not a planet.  The border between the two is fuzzy and under much debate but at that mass, temperature, and distance it heavily favors the brown dwarf classification.  At least according to the resident expert at my house (my wife - who studies brown dwarfs and explanets as her job Smile).  
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Jaxon's picture
December 7, 2013 - 11:56pm
Well, it would fit with a rogue planet idea...

Jaxon's picture
December 8, 2013 - 8:46am
When I was in Iraq, we lived in CHUs. I thought about making one for SF. Why not? It would be something that could be used by explorers or miners on new planets. I listed it under Adventures for Beginners.