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Another SF Setting: Pharos IV (revised)


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I did read Nightshade's description of his fascinating setting with great inter-

est, and perhaps a short description of my own favourite science fiction set-

ting could add a somewhat different view to the discussion about science fic-

tion settings. :)

All of my settings concentrate on one single planet, mainly to enable me to

design this part of the setting in enough detail to make it feel "real" and to

give the player characters a "home" they know well and can return to, with

families, relatives and other social contacts, responsibilities and duties.

The planet usually is a young colony, a world on the outermost frontier, not

yet fully explored and controlled, with surprises from the native wildlife to

alien ruins. The colonists, including the characters, are well trained and expe-

rienced professionals, but with only enough resources and equipment to get

along and to keep the colony alive and growing. They need more of almost

everything, and how to get it is what the game is about.

My favourite colony world is Pharos IV, a water world, entirely covered by an

ocean and without any land at all. This provides a native environment that

is both very dangerous - almost more so than space - and that is so alien

that it is not difficult to create a "sense of wonder" during its exploration.

Besides, it supports my approach that science fiction should put science and

technology and the characters' use of them close to the center of the game,

because on a water world the characters need technology even for basic

survival.

Beyond Pharos IV is the much less detailed background universe - in fact, I

have used different such backgrounds for different campaigns, including one

based on David Weber's Honorverse and one based on Martin Dougherty's Far

Avalon roleplaying game supplement.

All backgrounds have in common that they provide the colonists on Pharos IV

with opportunities to interact with "offworlds": Trade, politics, diplomacy, and

so on, both with the human stellar nation the colonists came from and with

the alien cultures just beyond the frontier Pharos IV is on.

This is where spaceships become important. The colonists usually have only

a single small merchant ship to start with, the colony's only connection with

the "wider universe". It is used for trade (which usually stays in the back-

ground of the campaign) as well as rescue missions, diplomatic missions, de-

fense against whoever might attack the colony, and so on.

Combat of any kind is very rare in my setting, the characters usually are the

"underdogs" who cannot risk to make their neighbours truly angry at them,

because each of those neighbours could easily destroy the young colony.

Therefore the characters have to rely on their non combat skills, especially

their technical and social skills, to solve the various problems - think "more

McGyver than Rambo".

Yep, I think this gives an impression of the Pharos IV setting and my thoughts

on its design. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Perhaps a few more words about the technology of my settings ...

I like my campaigns' technology to be on the plausible, understandable side

of the science fiction spectrum, far from the "technology as magic" concept.

Since technology and the player characters' use of it are an important part

of almost all adventures, the players must have an opportunity to compre-

hend what the technology does, and how it does it.

Therefore the technology of Pharos IV is much closer to the cutting edge of

today's science and technology than, for example, the technology of Star

Trek or Star Wars - which is often closer to "technobabble" than technology

anyway.

As a result faster than light travel and antigrav, as the two pieces of "magic"

I found unavoidable, have been developed by aliens and are still experimental

and badly understood by human scientists.

Almost everything else is based on real world science and technology. Fusion

reactors are huge, bulky and extremely expensive, vehicles are of types that

really do or could exist. For example, the water vehicles of Pharos IV are hy-

drofoils, SWATH-ships or neutral buoyancy ("deep flight") submarines.

Artificial Intelligence mimics real intelligence quite well, but requires mainfra-

me computers, and it can not develop any real creativity. Robots are dumb,

useful for simple mechanical tasks, but dangerous to have around in situa-

tions they were not programmed for. The most intelligent, useful and versa-

tile non human helpers of the colonists are trained, but not uplifted dolphins.

Something "new" in my next campaign will be that technology will develop

over time, beginning with equipment very much like that of the Modern Equip-

ment Catalog, with more futuristic technology (e.g. from the Audace ad Glo-

riam supplement for Traveller) slowly becoming available during the campaign

- I hope this will support the "feel" of a living, changing world and also give

the player characters something to work for.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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So, what can the player characters do in such a setting ?

I usually follow the "dare to be dumb" rule, and therefore my adventures are

of the less spectacular kind. The characters do not save the universe, win

intergalactic wars or overthrow the evil Emperor of Everything each week. In

fact, they usually only try to stay alive, gain some more knowledge about the

world they live in, and - with some luck - improve the situation of the colony.

The first important adventure site is the planet itself, which offers almost end-

less opportunities for challenging missions.

For example, if you consider dungeon delving as interesting, think of the ex-

ploration of an underwater cave system. It is dark, and the silt in the water

reduces the sight to a few meters, so you have to rely on the readouts of

your sonar sensors. It is narrow, you have to squeeze through holes without

damaging your diving gear. You have no idea what may live in the deeper

parts of the cave system, and your oxygen supply will soon run low - and do

you have to turn left or right to return to the entrance ... you get the pic-

ture.

Then there are the creatures inhabiting the planet. Marine creatures tend to

have a lot of strange features, from electric and sonic sensors and weapons

to unexpected behaviour patterns.

For example, there was this migration of giant sea scorpions, too well armou-

red for the underwater weapons of the colonists, and with claws able to rip

apart even a diving hardsuit. Every few years several thousand of them mi-

grated from a deep sea trench to the mating ground of the species, and their

migration route took them right through the colony's algae fields, the colo-

nists' main source of food ...

Factions are another source of adventures. The colonists come from different

homeworlds, with different cultures and political traditions, and now have to

develop a common planetary culture and a planetary government.

This offers opportunities for a lot of intrigue and wheeling and dealing, espe-

cially if the colony has something valuable to export (crystals, in this case),

and offworld interests from governments through corporations to organized

crime would like to control the colony.

Which takes us offworld. The first adventure opportunity that comes to mind

is trade, but trade is not exactly very fascinating in the long run.

Therefore we rarely play the trade itself, usually only the interesting parts, li-

ke the trade negotiations with offworld corporations, the preparations to es-

tablish and protect trade routes, and so on.

This is usually mixed with diplomacy and "cultural diplomacy", because many of

the colony's neighbours are aliens, often only recently contacted for the first

time. Needless to say, these aliens also have "non-monolithic" societies, with

different factions with differing interests, all against the background of cultu-

res that are difficult to comprehend for humans.

And finally there are what we call "Bring Me Missions": The colony urgently

wants or needs something, and is unable to obtain it through the usual, legal

channels.

The first Pharos IV adventure ever was of this kind, a mission to bring a do-

zen dolphins from Earth to Pharos IV. Unfortunately dolphins were a protec-

ted species on Earth, and various environmental desasters had reduced their

numbers. There was no way to legally buy a dolphin, or to get a permission

to export one, and there was also no "black market" for dolphins ...

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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As a result faster than light travel and antigrav, as the two pieces of "magic" I found unavoidable, have been developed by aliens and are still experimental and badly understood by human scientists.

I am still convinced that I can do without my personal two SF bugbears, antigrav and fusion power. IMO these two together would solve too many of mankind's problems for my liking, and lead to a Star Trek kind of society where all adventure is High Adventure. FTL is really the only almost-unavoidable technology, I think - almost, because several SF authors have created interstellar plots with STL, although it is clearly more difficult than just accepting FTL. But in your ype of setting, it might work. If you have ships with, e.g. high-thrust antimatter drives with a respectable delta-V, you might have slower communications with your neighbours but probably no less frequent, assuming you only have a ship calling once a year or so.

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Yep, I also think that I could do without FTL drives, fusion power and anti-

grav without damaging the setting.

However, there is the "player demand" to keep space technology simple and

easy to handle, and so I reluctantly introduced the "magic", but restricted

its use to spaceships by making it huge and extremely expensive - much too

huge and expensive for planetary use, except perhaps as an occasional fu-

sion reactor on an industrial planet.

The scenario that finally convinced me to introduce the "magic" was the ne-

cessity to enable "normal" spaceships to visit Pharos IV. With an antigrav that

allows them to hover above the ocean surface and enough fusion power to

do so for some time, I avoided the problem that only specially designed spa-

ceships can land / "water" on an ocean surface (e.g. ability to float, cargo

doors above the waterline, and so on).

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Sounds like a spinoff from those sci fi settings you asked input for in previous discussions. If PCs arrive by slower-than-light methods, they're stuck with whatever they have on board whether it is appropriate to the all-water environment or not. They'll have to improvise big time since additional colonists and supplies won't be arriving to help for centuries (if at all). Hope they packed their water wings. FTL allows them the possibility of sending back home, or to another colony, for stuff they forgot.

If I remember right, you jumped from water worlds to desert worlds to ice worlds. Does Pharos IV has a really, ahem, erratic climate? Hmmm, marine life goes into hibernation during the dry cycle. Or organisms have an amphibious life cycle; land critters during desert season morph into sea creatures during wet (and mating) season. It's a boom/bust ecology.

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If I remember right, you jumped from water worlds to desert worlds to ice worlds. Does Pharos IV has a really, ahem, erratic climate?

No, not really. I have made a "full turn" and am now back to the setting I

started the series with in 2007, therefore the "revised" above ^^. :D

There has been so much excellent roleplaying material published since 2007,

both for BRP and my other favourite system Traveller, that I decided to ma-

ke a complete overhaul of this setting, introducing both that material and

all the things I had learned about setting design and campaigns during the

last three years. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Having started this thread, I can just as well continue to ramble ... ;)

With the planet itself as the "main NPC" of the setting, one needs (or at least

wants) some information about it.

The amount of detail offered by the world design system of a science fiction

roleplaying game varies widely, with Traveller at one end and GURPS at the

other end of the scale.

For example, my newly discovered water world looks like this in Traveller:

X96A000-0 Ba, Wa

It has no starport, is of above average size, has a breathable atmosphere,

is entirely covered by water, has no population, government, law level or

technology level (yet) and is treated as a barren water world for trade pur-

poses - and this is all the information one gets about the planet and its

system.

This may be sufficient for an occasional visit during a planet hopping space

opera campaign, but not for my purposes, and so I turn to GURPS Space for

a more detailed data set, and once my trusted pocket calculator has defea-

ted the hordes of hostile formulas, I get this:

World Type: Standard (Garden)

Diameter: 14,928 km

Gravity: 0.97 G

Density: 4.58 g/cc

Axial Tilt: 11 degrees

Atmospheric Pressure: 1.29 atm

Atmospheric Composition: Nitrogen-Oxygen, occasionally polluted by volcanism

Hydrographic Percentage: 100 %

Climate Type: Warm

Temperature Range: 21° C – 42° C

Resource Value Modifier: Abundant (+1)

Habitability Score: + 5

- and this is only the physical "makeup" of the planet, the data sets for its

(future) population and for all the other bodies of the system will be just as

comprehensive, if not more so.

While this is almost too much of a good thing, it helps to imagine the world,

and provides some inspiration for a campaign there.

For example, an atmosphere occasionally polluted by volcanism ... sea mount

volcanoes, seaquakes and tsunamis ...

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I am still convinced that I can do without my personal two SF bugbears, antigrav and fusion power.

I can see dumping FTL travel and antigrav, but I don't see the objection to fusion power. The increase in energy output from a fusion reactor or even an antimatter reactor is not a fantastic improvement over fission reactors.

Space's biggest obstacles, after the hostility of the environment, are the vast distances involved (even Star Trek has to cheat and have the ships move much faster than their listed speed to get from one system to another is any reasonably amount if time), and the fuel requirements (getting something off the Earth into orbit takes about 9-10 times it's weight worth of fuel).

Fusion just makes it the latter a little less impracticable.

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The scenario that finally convinced me to introduce the "magic" was the ne-

cessity to enable "normal" spaceships to visit Pharos IV. With an antigrav that

allows them to hover above the ocean surface and enough fusion power to

do so for some time, I avoided the problem that only specially designed spa-

ceships can land / "water" on an ocean surface (e.g. ability to float, cargo

doors above the waterline, and so on).

A "non-magical" alternative, especially for a waterworld, would be to make a "airship dock" (think Zeppelin) that uses hydrogen (or better yet, deuterium) to provide lift. No only would this provide lift, but it could also be used as fuel for both the platform, and any spaceships that dock.

And either could be processed from water, something that is highly abundant on the planet.

So a ship could make it's way to the upper atmosphere, land at the "airdock", power down the engines, be brought closer to the planet's surface, loiter around indefinitely, load and unload cargo and personnel, make repairs, top off the tanks, and be brought back to the upper atmosphere, take off and leave.

All with a net gain in fuel for the spaceship.

Since the docks generate power, they could be used to recharge the batteries as well as the fuel tanks on any craft on the planet.

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Thank you, a very interesting idea. :)

I am not sure whether the weather (hurricanes, etc.) would make such a

kind of dock possible, but on the other hand a dock floating on the ocean

surface would be in an at least as bad environment - unless it could sub-

merge deep enough beneath the waves without destroying the ships that

are docked at it at the time.

There are several concepts I am playing around with, and you have added

another good one, but all of them will become possible only after the colo-

ny has already been established and has begun to start some major con-

struction projects.

Until then I see no really good way to avoid the "antigrav magic", but it al-

so does not really worry me - if I use a faster than light drive that is some-

how based on the manipulation of gravity, I can just as well add this fea-

ture to it, I think. ;)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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A quibble I have is that, based on your description of Pharos' volcanic activity, surely there would be the occasional volcanic islet or three. Maybe not a continent. Maybe not even anything as big as the Hawaiian chain. But something. And surely coral (or the local equivalent) reefs and atolls would have sprouted on some of those underwater mountains once they got close enough to the surface. The planet would still be 99.9999 percent water. But there would at least be someplace for weary astronauts to anchor their water-tight spacecraft and start constructing those floating or hovering inflatable docks.

Also, on Earth much of the sea life depends upon the relatively warm, shallow water next to continents to sustain itself. That's where the thick shoals of fishes, seaweed, and diatoms grow. The really deep water is pretty much a sunless desert devoid of nutrients except for what bubbles up from the volcanic vents or drifts down from above. If Pharos IV is a deep-water desert, where does the food come from for all your PC-munching life forms? :confused:

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I can see dumping FTL travel and antigrav, but I don't see the objection to fusion power. The increase in energy output from a fusion reactor or even an antimatter reactor is not a fantastic improvement over fission reactors.

Well, apart from the fact that fusion at this moment is still "magic", it removes any real fuel worries. In game terms, it is safe, non-polluting, limitless, cheap energy. As everything in our type of civilisation eventually comes down to the cost of energy, fusion as presented in Traveller is too much of a magic wand for my liking. Of course, you could handwave Fusion reactors as being fantastically expensive in another way, but that's just bolting on more levels of "magic". all IMHO, of course. Now,

ontopic.gif

On a science fiction waterworld, there are probably many alternate energy sources which could be exploited, if you feel so inclined - wind, wave, geothermal, differential. All of which require lots of infrastructure which needs to be built and maintained out there in the Wet & Wild.

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Well, apart from the fact that fusion at this moment is still "magic", it removes any real fuel worries. In game terms, it is safe, non-polluting, limitless, cheap energy.

I wouldn't say it was any more "magic" that the ability to go to Mars and back. And it isn't really safe, non-polluting, limitless or cheap. In fact, so far, it has been very expensive. Eventually, if it pans out it will be superior to fission, but it won't be a cure-all.

As everything in our type of civilisation eventually comes down to the cost of energy, fusion as presented in Traveller is too much of a magic wand for my liking.

Ah, Traveller reactors- that a different kettle of fish. Traveller, like most Sci-Fi exaggerates the capabilities of the technology. Yeah, the ones from Traveller are too good to be true.

The big thing that most SF tends to ignore is just how much fuel spaceships require. Even something like a fusion powered engine needs to blow through a lot of fuel to get the amount of thrust and acceleration they have in the game. Much, much more than Traveller requires.

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Thank you, a very interesting idea. :)

I am not sure whether the weather (hurricanes, etc.) would make such a

kind of dock possible, but on the other hand a dock floating on the ocean

surface would be in an at least as bad environment - unless it could sub-

merge deep enough beneath the waves without destroying the ships that

are docked at it at the time.

The way to deal with the weather would be for the airdock to use lift to rise above it, or move away from it. Assuming that they have some technology for checking out the weather (anything from radar, to satellites, to little transmitters scattered through the globe), they could get some sort of advanced warned and move to avoid the storm.

The killler technology for something like this would be advanced ceramics and polymers. The structure would need to be light enough so that it could hold enough hydrogen to lift it (and any docked craft).

It could probably use a hose and pump to draw up water for fuel from the sea.

The submersible dock is also a reasonable idea. You don't have to go very deep to avoid the strom, either. The trick here would be to make sure that the craft is light enough to be able to surface in order for the ship to take off.

It might even be possible to design a spacecraft that is submerible. It is already most of the way there. If it were only going to dive below strom depth, then it wouldn't need too thick a hull, and the ship could draw off water for fuel.

The big advantage of the dock would be in reducing the fuel a ship would need to take off or land on the planet.

The funny thing about the dock is that I got it from an airship design that you mentioned awhile back. The high altitude weather craft.

An airdock is technically possible with current technology, but it isn't very practical, or economical. But on a waterworld with a lot of volcanic activity, the sky would be a good place to live.

Of coruse, without some form of antigrav the thing would need to be huge. I mean really huge. If I recall my airship notes, the volume required is something like 1000m3 per metric ton of lift. So a 1000 ton dock capable of supporting a 500 ton ship would need 1500000m3 oh hydrogen to support it. That would be something like 1km long, 100m wide, and 15 meters thick.

There are several concepts I am playing around with, and you have added

another good one, but all of them will become possible only after the colo-

ny has already been established and has begun to start some major con-

struction projects.

Until then I see no really good way to avoid the "antigrav magic", but it al-

so does not really worry me - if I use a faster than light drive that is some-

how based on the manipulation of gravity, I can just as well add this fea-

ture to it, I think. ;)

Well the submersible ship would solve the antigrav concept. Another possibility would be if the ship had balloons on board that it could fill will hydrogen gas (from it's fuel) to provide lift to support the ship.

Of course once you have antigrav, it kind of become the proffered solution for a lot of things.

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Well the submersible ship would solve the antigrav concept.

The submersible spaceship is on my list, too, although it seems that a transfer

point on the ocean surface, where passengers and cargo would be transferred

from the spaceship to a submarine, would come cheaper in the long run - at

least in the Traveller system.

However, air dock, partially submersible dock and submersible spaceship do

not really solve my problem in the short run, because they only become pos-

sible once the colony has begun to either gain income from trade or to deve-

lop its own industry, because importing the necessary materials would require

a lot more money than my economic model would allow the colony to have.

Until then, the occasional tramp trader from a neighbouring system, with a

spaceship that is not designed to handle "water landings", will need a way to

trade with the colonists, and this is where I think I need the "antigrav magic"

- although I will make it possible for spaceships only.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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A quibble I have is that, based on your description of Pharos' volcanic activity, surely there would be the occasional volcanic islet or three.

I am thinking more of the kind of volcanism that exists in deep sea trenches,

like for example the "black smokers" with their own unique ecosystems based

on chemosynthesis instead of photosynthesis.

And I also think that on a planet without any continents to weaken them the

storms and waves would probably get powerful enough to destroy everything

close to the ocean surface, so coral reefs could probably not form within a

few dozen meters of the surface.

But in the end these are all rationalizations, I just decided that the planet is

without dry land and has some very shallow regions at best, because this is

how I imagined it first, and make up potential reasons why this could be so. ;)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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On a science fiction waterworld, there are probably many alternate energy sources which could be exploited, if you feel so inclined - wind, wave, geothermal, differential. All of which require lots of infrastructure which needs to be built and maintained out there in the Wet & Wild.

Yes, exactly - suitable locations have to be found, explored and secured,

the construction teams have to be protected, their camps will look like the

station in "Outland" and will have similar problems with drugs and crime ... >:->

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Here is the entire GURPS Space data set for my water world, now renamed

"Varun" to avoid confusion with the earlier "Pharos IV model".

I have chosen an "Indian theme" for the names of the star and its planets,

partially because I intend to have the majority of the colonists come from a

planet with an "Indian" background culture, with Jainism the dominant religi-

on, "Indian" customs, and so on, in order to get a background culture that is

different enough from previous settings that it feels fresh and interesting.

While the authors of GURPS Space obviously expected me to design all the

system's planets in as much detail as the mainworld Varun, I will not do this

- all I will note are their general descriptions (e.g. "hot rock ball"), their dia-

meters, surface gravity and atmospheres. If the player characters should

decide to visit one of these planets, there will be sufficient time to calcula-

te all the other data that are needed.

The data set for the colony itself (population, government, per capita inco-

me, etc.) is just as long as the physical data set, but these informations

will be created during the campaign, heavily influenced by the decisions and

activities of the player characters - right now Varun is still unexplored and

uninhabited.

Star Chandalini

Type : F 7 V

Population: Intermediate Population I

Age : 3.1 billion years

Temperature: 6,300 K

Luminosity: 2.94

Radius: 0.0067 AU

Star Mass: 1.23

Chandalini System

Orbit 1 - 0.28AU : Aiman

Orbit 2 - 0.41 AU : Bimal

Orbit 3 - 0.82 AU : Charu

Orbit 4 - 1.46 AU : Varun

Orbit 5 - 3.21 AU : Etash

Orbit 6 - 5.77 AU : Farid

Orbit 7 - 10.40 AU : Gadin (Gas Giant)

Orbit 8 - 18.72 AU : Hari (Gas Giant)

Orbit 9 - 33.69 AU : Iham

Planet Varun

Orbital Radius: 1.46 AU

Orbital Eccentricity: 0.11

Orbital Period: 581 days

Axial Tilt: 11 degrees

Rotation Period: 25 hours 30 minutes

World Type : Standard (Garden)

Diameter: 14,928 km

Gravity: 0.97 G

Density: 4.58 g/cc

Atmospheric Pressure : 1.29 atm

Atmospheric Composition: Nitrogen-Oxygen, occasionally polluted by volcanism

Hydrographic Percentage: 100 %, kein Land

Climate Type : Warm

Temperature Range: 21° C – 42° C

Volcanic Activity: Moderate

Tectonic Activity: Light

Resource Value Modifier: Abundant (+1)

Habitability Score : + 5

With that done, the next step will be the planet's biosphere, beginning with

the "templates" (e.g. how many limbs, how many genders, etc.) of the pla-

net's dominant and most common families of species.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Using Flynn's Guide to Alien Creation, a very useful supplement for Mongoose

Traveller, and determining the features of a typical Varunian creature mostly

by random die rolls and occasionally by choice, the template finally looks like

this:

A warm blooded, cold resistant aquatic creature, life bearing with two

genders and the ability to change gender during hibernation, usually of

medium size, with an armoured radially symmetric body with six limbs,

armed with claws, swimming at average speed, almost blind but able to

sense its environment through sound and vibrations. The flyers of the

family of species use lighter than air methods to fly.

This will be the dominant family of species of Varun, most Varunian animals

will have these basic features in common, whether they are herbivores, om-

nivores or carnivores, big or small.

Looks good to me. Nothing really spectacular, but such "specials" can be

added to specific species, and not too close to typical Terran creatures to

make a sense of wonder impossible.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Now that I have some first impressions what the planet Varun is like, it is time

to put it somewhere the explorers and the colonists can find it.

I usually design a small region with few planets as the surrounding space of

a setting's planet, small enough to describe all the planets in some detail and

to enable the player characters to understand the situation and to "learn the

ropes" quickly.

In this case it is the Demidov Cluster, consisting of a "transfer" planet that

connects this frontier region with the "wider universe" (Demidov), an agricul-

tural planet (Trava), a resource and industrial planet (Zhelezo), an old colony

world (Poselok) and two young colony worlds (Hem and Misaki) - and Varun,

of course.

"Demidov" is the name of the scout who first entered the region, "Trava" (=

Green), "Zhelezo" (= Iron) and "Poselok" (= Settlement) are Russian words,

so you can imagine who settled these worlds. "Hem" is Swedish, "Misaki" is

Japanese, so the "second wave" of the colonization obviously was done by

colonists from different homeworlds and background cultures - the Cluster

begins to get the outline of a history.

I am still not certain what the "transfer world" Demidov will connect to, but I

think it will again be a somewhat modified version of Martin J. Dougherty's

Far Avalon setting.

post-246-140468074368_thumb.png

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I am still not certain what the "transfer world" Demidov will connect to, but I think it will again be a somewhat modified version of Martin J. Dougherty's Far Avalon setting.

How would you feel about contributing your world & sector to the "SharedUniverse" project? (Which currently has nothing else but may or may not be deemed to be based on Nick's 'Gate Wardens' universe from Outpost 19, ultimately a variation of FutureWorld).

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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How would you feel about contributing your world & sector to the "SharedUniverse" project?

No problem with that - except the language.

While I am working with English roleplaying material, like GURPS Space, I use

English and later on translate my design into German, so there are versions

in both languages.

However, once this part is done and I begin to add all the details, I use Ger-

man, and I am usually much too lazy to try to translate that, too.

So, whoever likes the "skeleton" material posted here is free to use it as he

likes, including of course "SharedUniverse", but there will be no English ver-

sion of the "flesh" on these "bones", I am afraid.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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The "SharedUniverse" is still a bit too empty to use as a background, so I ha-

ve meanwhile figured out how to connect my Demidov Cluster with the Far

Avalon setting mentioned above.

In this setting there are both FTL drives and Conduits, natural "wormholes"

that can be used by accordingly outfitted starships for fast transfer between

a conduit's openings.

In my version of the setting, the average performance of a hyperdrive of a ci-

vilian starship is approcimately 2 Parsec per day, and a hex on my star chart

is about 10 Parsec wide and takes about 5 days to cross.

Therefore Varun is about 20 Pc or 10 days of travel time from the nearest in-

habited world Hem, about 30 Pc / 15 days from the developed colony Poselok

and 70 Pc / 35 days from the transfer world Demidov.

Yep, I prefer my space big and travel times long. A visit to Poselok, for exam-

ple to buy some urgently needed spare parts, takes a Varunian at least one

month - and much could have changed on Varun while he was away.

Demidov is one end of the Beacon Conduit, which is approximately 120 light

years / 37 Parsec long, takes about 5 days to travel through, and leads to

the Beacon system, controlled by the Nordica monarchy (from where the co-

lonists of Hem once came), in the Far Avalon region.

From Beacon it is about 15 Parsec to Dakota in the Trane League and about

25 Parsec each to Nordica and to the independent world Kirkwall, the nearest

worlds of interest to the Varunians.

This means that a diplomatic mission to Nordica takes 35 days to get to De-

midov, 5 days through the conduit to Beacon on a transfer ship able to use

the conduit, and another 13 days from Beacon to Nordica - 53 days to get

there and 53 days for the return trip.

As I said, I prefer my space big. ;)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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But before I can travel anywhere else, I have to return to the drawing board

for a while: Right now my planet has a lot of data, but it still does not have a

geography - there is no map.

The first draft of the map gives only a basic idea of what the planet is like: A

lot of water, some shallows (a bit like "sunken continents"), a few sea mounts

and a "deep cauldron" to start with.

With this not yet final first picture it is time to think about all the geographi-

cal data, like "how deep is my ocean" or "where to put the volcanoes" - and,

of course, natural resources (the crystals that will one day be mined and ex-

ported), important ocean currents, and finally some potential sites for the fu-

ture colony (to give the player characters an opportunity to make a very

good or terribly bad choice).

And, on a "secret" copy of the map, "where there are dragons" - like alien ru-

ins, the habitats of especially nasty creatures, and so on.

Over time, this first map will probably be changed several times, both before

and during the campaign, so it does not have to be especially nice.

Here is my first draft of the Varun map:

post-246-140468074372_thumb.png

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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