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M-Space Alien and Planet Sheets


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So i am working on a sheet for creating planets and probably one for creating aliens within the M-Space worlds. what are some things that you think should be on there? 

for planets

star type, planet size, system name its in, whether it has life on it, climate, atmosphere, 

 

for aliens

size, limbs, physical description, habitat, intellect (animal or human) tech level, language, habitable (oxygen breathable etc), communication (verbal, sign langauge)

 

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20 hours ago, heathd666 said:

So i am working on a sheet for creating planets and probably one for creating aliens within the M-Space worlds. what are some things that you think should be on there? 

I liked how M-Space uses the same format ast the now 30 years old Traveller method of mapping a space opera setting, and I suggest to stick rather closely to this time-proven method of visualizing the setting. I would scrap the hexadecimal code system for something more readable, though - computer interfaces improved greatly the last forty years (which is where the Traveller Univers got stuck in terms of IT). One good reason for this similarity is fairly easy integration of old Traveller material - whether official or fan-produced, e.g. in the first 80 or so issues of the White Dwarf magazine - for recycling.

I've been trying to set up a way to administrate my putative M-Space setting, too.

I have two major design models I intend to copy and/or adapt.

One is the 1983 (or so) edition of Traveller (which I own in its German translation). It has numerous good ideas and numerous bad ideas for populating sectors and systems, but it has the advantage of allowing a pen and paper approach to data collection.

My other design model is the Heroquest Glorantha product Men of the Seas which offers a simple narraitve approach that is based on the concept of Ports of Call.

Basically, a naval or space opera campaign will consist of a vessel landing in a port facility of some kind (which includes treachery swamp clearings on Dagobah as much as a landing facility on Coruscant). Normally the game will start here with the player characters' interaction with the planetary hinterland, unless you start your scenarios with an in medias res approach offering only a few backslash scenes for how the party got into this specific mess. Firefly operates on this port of call premise most of the time. This means that rather than sitting down to develop the entire planet and planetary system you only give detailed information for the immediate environment your party encounters. And you detail only those parts of the hinterland that are story relevant.

The Wing-Commander- style Sandbox space game Freelancer gives a good idea how many ports and other installations with potential story relevance to expect in inhabited or frontier sectors.

I intend to use the Traveler approach to outline the potential of a sector, subsector, solar system or planet, and a Ports of Call system to describe potential game settings in this environment.

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for planets

The planet is a sub-set of the star system. Normally, I would advocate creating a symbolic star map with a sized comparison for the major planetary body of the orbit (if any, otherwise an indication of asteroid population), listed under a description of the primary star. Intermediate orbits for technological facilites could be inserted here, too. Orbits can have an inclination to the major plane, which would be described here, as well as any asymmetries you want to inflict on the orbit.

Each orbit would receive a map of its Lagrange-areas - one zoomed out to show the L3, 4 and 5 populations of astreroids or technological facilites, ad one zoomed in showing the main object(s) and the L1  and L2 populations (if any).

A second orbital map would detail the main planetary body. If it has moons and/or rings, I would treat it just like the star system - a list of orbital features. In casee of a binary planet circling a common mass center, the main planetary body would appear as the first orbiter. (Our own planet and its moon would be such a case. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn would ignore displacement from the center of mass.)

A civilized planet will have orbital shells populated by satellites, and a map of geostationary installations. Major installations like space lifts and orbital slingshots for planetary approaches would be mapped here, too.

 

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star type, planet size, system name its in, whether it has life on it, climate, atmosphere, 

System name would be the reference ID linking the planet to the knowledge base, followed by a number that indicates the major orbit the planet occupies. Additional symbols can be used to indicate deviations from the normal order of things. Ganymede for instance would be Sol 5/3 (or 6/3, if you want to assign the asteroid belt orbit as a main orbit, like Kepler did), ignoring any ring structures Jupiter might have thrown in between Ganymede and itself.

While the star type is a factor, the amount and quality of the sunlight is what defines the planet (or moon). I am thinking about zones like too hot, very hot, hot Goldilocks, Goldilocks, cold Goldilocks, cold, very cold, interstellar cold. Note that planets on eccentrical orbits may travel through several such zones, like e.g. the planet of Vesteros.

Planet size, surface gravity, atmospheric type and density and average subtropical surface temperature range would be the next characteristics. Since I am too lazy to look all of this up, I am going to trust Traveller rules there, and in case of doubt roll things up as per the system creation rules of that edition. There ought to be spreadsheets out there doing just this job, I haven't researched this yet.

Atmospheric type and density ought to be halfway plausible. Terraforming can alter conditions to enable long-term instable atmospheres that need replenishing, but enable near-terrestrial (or other standards) conditions.

Secondary characteristics like surface land mass percentage (regardless whether the liquids are water, methane, ammoniak, or sulphuric acid clouds below the highest peaks that will support floating or submerged habitats, like Venus). There is a planet in Foster's Homanx cycle which has three different atmospheres with their quite distinct biota, one on sea level with high atmospheric pressure, humidity and cloud cover, one in the upper cloud providing an atmosphere similar to earth, and a higher one with Mt. Everest atmosphere on a huge surface, with its own biota where it is warm enough. The planet Wunderland in Niven's stories sits atop a plateau surrounded by uninhabitable, permanently cloud-covered lowlands, offering a human habitable area of maybe the size of Ireland on an earth-sized planet.

Note that there are no stable oxygene atmospheres without autotrophs (or machines) producing this stuff in greater quantities than they or the minerals of the planet use it up. (Massive electrolysis or thermolysis of oxidic ores might be able to pump excessive amounts of oxygene into the atmosphere.)

Planetary map:

A blank icosahedral hex map to outline the geography. The Hexographer software mentioned in the rules can produce such maps, usually, with a random map, but that can be edited back to a blank map that can take hand-drawn features, resulting in maps resembling the Harnmaster-standard for their planet Ivinia, or at least sketch precursors of that.

Mercator projection maps can be used to create Google-Earth overlays, but these don't allow interesting settings like polar stations or settlements on worlds otherwise too hot for human habitation, or lifeless planets or moons like ours or Mercury with too-hot and too-cold surface conditions alternating, and the poles the only places where surface structures can be used all day and all night. I don't think that GIS-technology should be required to play Space Opera games, but if someone can work with that, Mercator projection is an easy method to edit maps in Ope Source products like Q-GIS.

Climate is not a planetary property, but a property of places on the planet, unless you dig single-biome-planets.  I don't.

I would add a registry entry, which could be used for a fan-created database of M-Space settings.

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for aliens

size, limbs, physical description, habitat, intellect (animal or human) tech level, language, habitable (oxygen breathable etc), communication (verbal, sign langauge)

Standard Mythras stats, taking care of limbs and size, too.

Spacefaring aliens (also alien life forms transferred to other ecosystems), or aliens in their natural environment? Spacefaring life forms could be assigned tolerances (atmospheric composition and pressure, humidity, gravity, temperature, radiation), both terran and alien, and additional data could give information on which technological aids they need to survive or thrive in otherwise barely or non-habitable environments, like filter masks, prosthetics, or environmental suits.

I am thinking of e.g. semi-derelict habitat stations (or caverns on otherwise uninhabitable planets) which suffer from out-of-control cultivated life forms.

Tech-level: Look at e.g. the Stainless Steel Rat stories to lead single purpose Tech Level ad absurdum where imported higher tech (which may be nearly ubiquitious) gets coupled with locally manufactured low tech levels - things like steam-powered autonomous robotic drones, humanoid or wheeled. The Vatican state has no native industry at all. Does this make them a tech level zero culture? What about gun-toting hunter-gatherer cultures in Africa, or nude Amazonas natives communicating via skype on I-Phones or satellite-connected PCs with solar panels while maintaining most of their indigeneous culture?

My space opera setting is going to have cannibalistic savages managing biological or semi-autonomous space ships, toting captured or traded advanced weaponry, along with more peaceful but as technologically primitive spacefaring groups. Nudity might be a standard across a variety of civilisations and tech levels - why wear unnecessary clothing if you can choose or create an environment making textiles superfluous most of the time?

Edited by Joerg
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>> why wear unnecessary clothing if you can choose or create an environment making textiles superfluous most of the time?

Because sapient is not necessarily rational. :-)  There could be many reasons for clothing that have nothing to do with practicality, and everything to do with psychology and culture--just like in the real world.

...but nudity could well be a standard, too; why not?  Enjoy!

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10 hours ago, Joerg said:

This means that rather than sitting down to develop the entire planet and planetary system you only give detailed information for the immediate environment your party encounters. And you detail only those parts of the hinterland that are story relevant.

excellent idea because i ussually over think things and try to come up with every possible scenario the players will try even though rationaly i know i will never be able to anticipate player and what they will do in a game, its what makes pen and paper role playing games so much fun i guess.

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something similiar to this. form fillable with a background that is layered so that you can click on it to turn it off for printer friendly printing. also the square will have a clickable spot so that you can add a picture of what your planet looks like.

http://www.frostbytebooks.com/#downloads                 like the "alt character sheets" found here for M-Space

M-Space - Planet Description.jpeg

Edited by heathd666
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here is a copy of the form fillable layered pdf for the ship and planet sheet i did. if you use the layers tab you can turn off the cool background for printer friendly printing. the white spot if you click on it you can add a jpeg picture in it. hope it proves useful to others. 

 

M-Space - Ship Form Layered.pdf

M-Space - Planet Description Form Layered.pdf

Edited by heathd666
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here is a example of some cards i made. when you cut them out they are 2 1/2  x 3 1/2 poker sized cards. if you put them into plastic sleeves for cards you can make custom decks for your players for items, special effects, or even contacts. they are layered so you can turn off the background and form fillable. the first line is for a title. the second one is for description and the top section is clickable for a jpeg so you can add your own picture for whatever you are wanting to put in. hopefully they will be useful for the gms out there. i see so many people on here that put alot of time and effort into this system in the hopes that it will help people enjoy the game they love so these are my tribute to them because i have gotten so much inspiration and reading from the things they have put together and made available to everyone.

cards layered Form alt exa.jpeg

Edited by heathd666
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  • 1 month later...
On 4/28/2017 at 3:12 PM, heathd666 said:

something similiar to this. form fillable with a background that is layered so that you can click on it to turn it off for printer friendly printing. also the square will have a clickable spot so that you can add a picture of what your planet looks like.

http://www.frostbytebooks.com/#downloads                 like the "alt character sheets" found here for M-Space

M-Space - Planet Description.jpeg

I realize this comment comes late, but...  I would advocate for a slightly-different Planet/System/Position notation, written on 2 lines not 3:

  1. Star or System name (hyphen) Position of named planet
  2. Colloquial name(s) if any

e.g...

  1. Sol-3
  2. Terra aka "the Earth"

YMMV.  

Notwithstanding my minor quibble here, I'm really really liking your work on these projects!!!

 

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9 hours ago, g33k said:

I realize this comment comes late, but...  I would advocate for a slightly-different Planet/System/Position notation, written on 2 lines not 3:

  1. Star or System name (hyphen) Position of named planet
  2. Colloquial name(s) if any

e.g...

  1. Sol-3
  2. Terra aka "the Earth"

YMMV.  

Notwithstanding my minor quibble here, I'm really really liking your work on these projects!!!

 

how is this it would all be form fillable multi sentance and auto formating.

 

M-Space - Planet Description alt.jpeg

Edited by heathd666
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On 6/12/2017 at 4:12 PM, heathd666 said:

how is this it would all be form fillable multi sentance and auto formating.

That's pretty much what I was envisioning, yes.  This format "Sol 3" -- often with Roman numerals, as "Sol III" or "Cottman IV" or "Palain VII" -- is kind of a standardized form.

More recently, IAU is going with a lower-case letter appended after the name of the stellar-system; but they name in order of discovery, with the star itself becoming "-a" as the first-discovered object, then the next object being "-b," etc ...  regardless of physical position within the system.  Personally, I dislike this, but understand the necessity of not renaming every item every time a new technology detects a new suite of objects!

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