Sunday, January 13, 2019

Edge of Night Sector .. or How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

After running D&D for my face-to-face game group for the last seven years, I decided needed a bit of a break from swords and orcs for awhile. For various real life reasons, I also needed something that required little or no new game prep and no need to gronk new rules. I'd put together a short Classic Traveller game about a year ago that never quite got off the ground, so we decided to try a reboot (the original campaign background is here). It was pretty much ready to run right away, and after several years of playing Classic Traveller myself,  I'm starting to internalize the rules much like I've already done with B/X D&D. So no problem, no prep ...  

And of course I then proceeded to spend untold hours over Christmas rolling up a full sector, of which the players will likely never see more than 2-3 systems. Behold, the Edge of Night Sector!

To be fair, a few of the sub-sectors were all ready done. That said, 453 worlds and 5889 rolls of the dice later (not counting trade routes), a few thoughts on the process:

  • Rolling up Traveller worlds is  really fun mini game all in itself. I'm continually amazed at how enjoyable it is to just play with all the little bits of Traveller (character generation, spaceship construction, world generation, etc) even with the knowledge that most of it will never see the light of day game-wise. That is true of all role playing games, but for some reason I find it especially true with Traveller. 
  • There is some thing cathatic, relaxing, oddly satisfying or whatever of taking that mass of numbers and molding it into a somewhat logical whole. Plop it all down on the map, add some trade routes and suddenly all sorts of connections and adventure possibilities pop out. Why is there a super high tech planet sitting out by itself in the edge of nowwhere? What's up with that sub-sector full of airless rockballs of all shapes, sizes and populations? 
  • I have now internalized the world generation process to the point where I no longer need to look any the book when rolling up systems. Not sure how useful that is in terms of a life skill, but there it is. But I still can't keep the &#$%(^ atmosphere types straight in my head.
  • Progress was slow at first, but by the end I could whip out a sub-sector in a couple of hours, map and all. 
  • Going strictly by the word generation rules,you end up with a lot of Mars-size and smaller planets. Those in the size range of Earth (size 8) are relatively rare.
  • Speaking of which. Earth-like worlds, defined as those planets with earth-like size, atmosphere and hydrology [i.e 867 for the first three numbers of the UWP], are exceedingly rare. Out of 453 worlds, only 3 met the criteria. And one of those I fudged to fit a particular idea I had in mind. 
  • On the other hand, worlds with hellish insidious atmospheres abound; 14 'C' type atmospheres, and  5 'B' types. And there were more, but I decided to re-roll a few as it was stretching the realm of believably with that many really awful planets. You'd think there weren't any nice, comfortable planets available ...
  • However, as a general rule, with just a few exceptions (minimize number of hell-holes as noted above, and adjusting technology levels so there weren't too many tech level 1 civilizations on worlds that required air tanks to breath), I went with whatever the dice gave me. Yeah it's kind of hard explaining a population of 80 billion on an airless rockball, but that's part of the fun.
  • Determining trade route as per the 1977 rules really helped tie it all together in a big picture. Made laying out sensible interstellar borders easy, and offered up lots of ideas about who got along (or didn't) with who. The pattern of Navy bases helped too. The 'Pact of Iron' and "Kazzarian Warlords" came about when I noted the large concentration of navy bases in that area. Obviously must be a lot of conflict going on there. 
  • Number wise, each world is unique. Not one repeat in the UWPs. Not even close. I'm sure someone with a better statistics background than me could show that's not surprising, but to me after rolling all those dice, it's pretty damned impressive. 
  • Coming up with 453 names that wouldn't make me cringe in a months time was a challenge. A huge chuck are random made up spacey type names. There are a few clusters of worlds with related real word names (ex: Arthurian hero, metals, characters from Greek tragedies, trees, etc). Some whimsical names in a Niven's Known Space vein (Onward-Upward, It's Ended), references to classic science fiction writers and the folks at GDW. And one system called 'Name'; obviously some poor scout filled out the form wrong.
Now, where to put that creative energy now ...

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