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Gebohq
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Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 03:12

So after reading the core rulebook, I noticed that there are random generation roll tables for a lot of things (more than I thought, which is nice) but it seems shy of offering the one I'd have expected them too -- encounters while traveling in space. They have minor and major ship component complications for when in ship combat, and they have a table for mostly leaving for or arriving at your destination, and they call out the need to keep your ship maintained for every week of travel, but not the sort of things that the book often alludes to in its flavor text. With that, I thought I'd take a stab at such a table. Tell me what you think, whether you find it helpful or unnecessary or lacking or whatever! Note that the order needs rework as there are things currently in the table ordered lower than their threat would indicate.

Once a week, roll 1d6. If the result is a 6, roll the table below.

d66 -- Space Travel Encounters
  • 11-19: Nothing unusual.
  • 20-24: An unforeseen course correction needed to reach the PC's destination - add 1d6 parsecs to the travel needed.
  • 25-29: The PC's ship stops as it's navigation system has lost its bearings. Add 1d6 days to correct.
  • 30-32: Despite all odds, an unidentified ship is found in their way. If the PCs investigate, roll tables on page 352
  • 33-35: The PC's ship is pulled out of FTL travel by a space pirate trap.
  • 36-38: The PC's ship runs into the middle of a space battle.
  • 39-41: An unexpected ion storm falls upon the PC's ship. Roll for a minor ship complication [page 198-199]
  • 42-44: A neutrino burst slams the PC's ship. Roll for a major ship complication [page 199]
  • 45-47: Intermission The ship’s computer brings the ship out of hyperspace early, and then wakes the crew. What’s the story?
  • 48-50: Military A military starship sends over a small search party for a “routine” ICC and customs check. Should the PCs be worried?
  • 51-54: Wreckage A small piece of wreckage is spotted on the sensor scope; a cargo container, escape pod, frozen corpse, part of a starship smashed or blown off, etc.
  • 55-57: The truly unusual happens! Roll for a plot twist [page 350]
  • 58-60: An alien fungal infection slipped unnoticed until now. All players gain 1d6 Disease level.
  • 61-63: The ship crosses paths with a gamma ray burst. All players take radiation damage.
  • 64-66: The PC's ship travels too close to an uncharted black hole. Immediate action is needed not to fall past the event horizon!
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FreshWaterPredator
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 10:44

Hmmm, looks good to me.

The only issue that i can see, is The fact that this would only work on short distance trips.
In longer hauls The crew is usually on hypersleep/stasis etc.
 
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lupex
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 10:58

Hmmm, looks good to me.

The only issue that i can see, is The fact that this would only work on short distance trips.
In longer hauls The crew is usually on hypersleep/stasis etc.
Although this could be a list of reasons the crew wake up early from hyper sleep.
 
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HamsterOfWrath
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 12:09

Page 341 "Job Generator" has some Complications for space Travel and Page 351 onwards has some random Encounters for Star Systems, Surface and Colony, however you've done a fine job of coming up with your own hazards! 
 
Klas Bas
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 13:48

It’s not easy to roll 58-60 with d66.
 
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Deep_Impact
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 16:12

It’s not easy to roll 58-60 with d66.
Like many other, too :) Guess he was in the mood to write a lot of rows without thinking of the D66 range.

Including the first it´s a devilish D666 by the way.

- Some effects won´t do much, to be honest. 1 rad damage, many does nothing and heals extremly fast.
- Is it really possible to pull someone out of FTL?
- same with space battles. In FTL you shouldn´t notice them. btw. is htting anything while traveling in space nearly impossible.

And: A slow ship to a faraway system could need 60 days = 9 weeks/rolls
So nearly every travel would result in one or two major events and interruptions... is this realistic?

Nevertheless a funny idea.
 
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Gebohq
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 19:47

Thanks for the replies! I'll be responding to them in turn, starting with this one:
FreshWaterPredator:
Hmmm, looks good to me.

The only issue that i can see, is The fact that this would only work on short distance trips.
In longer hauls The crew is usually on hypersleep/stasis etc.
Thanks! So as noted later, the intent is that these would potentially be things that could also interrupt hypersleep. The rulebook notes that the tables are meant to be a starting point, not something to slavishly follow, and is a sentiment I shot to follow. With that said, my more detailed intent for this table are, in no particular order:
  • Make distances in travel more mechanically meaningful. Since there's no gameplay mechanic for, say, fuel, and the only reason to potentially be out of hypersleep is to avoid incurring minor component damage every week (something avoided if you have an android), this table offers some other options.
  • Discourage overuse of hypersleep. There's great potential to deal with issues if you're awake, but it's almost never going to happen.
  • Encourage the "space is hell" theme. The rulebook even on its back cover talks about possible black holes and gamma bursts and such from an indifferent universe, and wanted to explore how even space travel itself can be dangerous.
  • Encourage use of other mechanics like the conditions and certain tables/parts of tables in place.
With that said, not only is it rather difficult to pull immediately obvious reasons for the PCs to be interrupted in their journey, I don't even necessarily think it should be a common thing. In most of the source materials I know, space travel in the Alien universe is long and isolating and that's largely it with the exception of the openings of Alien and Alien Covenant, so there's not much precedent, and in addition, I personally find RPGs that have too many 'random encounters' to be frustrating, at least if it's the same "you get ambushed!" type of deal. So perhaps this is a table left best to short trips, or maybe instead of rolling to determine if an encounter is had, a GM simply rolls on the table IF they want an encounter.
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Gebohq
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 19:53

Hmmm, looks good to me.

The only issue that i can see, is The fact that this would only work on short distance trips.
In longer hauls The crew is usually on hypersleep/stasis etc.
Although this could be a list of reasons the crew wake up early from hyper sleep.
I wanted to make an extra note here that I realize that most any of the options for this table COULD be simplified to just the "Interrupt" option, where the crew is woken up and the GM is left to decide why, but that seemed to defeat the purpose of having such a table -- to generate ideas of what might interrupt the travel. I did include that option in the table (itself an option from an existing table) since I think it belonged well enough and leaves the door open for a 'wild card' of sorts. I might consider wanting to put some more "good" options on the table -- discovering wonders or possible riches or whatnot that, if the crew is asleep for, they'll miss out on -- to give incentive in considering if they want to not be in hypersleep or rotate or whatnot. Again, hard to even do that if they have an android on board, so some suspension of disbelief may be needed to make up reasons why the computer and/or android might miss these things?
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Gebohq
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 19:56

Page 341 "Job Generator" has some Complications for space Travel and Page 351 onwards has some random Encounters for Star Systems, Surface and Colony, however you've done a fine job of coming up with your own hazards! 
I did steal parts of stuff from Star Systems and other tables that I thought were applicable and threw them in this table as well in addition to some I either inferred from the book or otherwise was 'original' (the fungal infection, for instance, is spun off what's apparently a real concern for astronauts aboard the ISS, though probably not to the degree it could be in this game). In any case, thanks!
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Gebohq
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Re: Idea for random space travel encounters

Thu 07 Nov 2019, 20:18

It’s not easy to roll 58-60 with d66.
Like many other, too :) Guess he was in the mood to write a lot of rows without thinking of the D66 range.

Including the first it´s a devilish D666 by the way.

- Some effects won´t do much, to be honest. 1 rad damage, many does nothing and heals extremly fast.
- Is it really possible to pull someone out of FTL?
- same with space battles. In FTL you shouldn´t notice them. btw. is htting anything while traveling in space nearly impossible.

And: A slow ship to a faraway system could need 60 days = 9 weeks/rolls
So nearly every travel would result in one or two major events and interruptions... is this realistic?

Nevertheless a funny idea.
I definitely borked the numbers, as I was renumbering several times when editing the list and forgot to take that into account -- whoops! As I said before, it'd need reordering and rebalancing anyway, which maybe I'll do at some point.

For the radiation damage specifically, I actually meant to include a range, which is why it just says "radiation damage" and not an actual value. I have no idea what would be a good amount, but ideally, it's enough to range from "minor damage that complicates things on arrival at their destination" to "major issue that is a mini-adventure in its own they need to resolve" (akin to the opening of Alien Covenant). Perhaps instead of a range, there's simply two distinct options, one for minor and one for major. Regardless, your sentiment is on point, and as noted in previous posts, it's not the easiest to balance "something that actually registers as meaningful" with "rocks fall, everyone dies" when the main premise of space travel in the Alien universe involves hypersleep and androids who can do things for the sleepers.

As for if it's really possible to pull a ship out of FTL, I'm not aware of any precedent set in the Alien universe, but it also seems odd to me that there wouldn't be /something/ that could do that, and from a narrative standpoint, while I don't care for the overuse of "bandit ambush!" I do think it seems fitting for it to happen sometimes in a game like this. What the flavor text would be to make that possible, I don't know. Maybe it's not a physical trap but something like tricking computers into thinking the ship will run into a planet with some sort of bouy-system. I suppose if such a thing really doesn't fit in the Alien universe though it could be nixed from the table.

I'm also aware that, in reality, the likelihood of hitting something in space is literally astronomically zero because space is so dang big, but again, for narrative purposes, I included such options. In the case of a space battle, maybe instead of literally encountering a space battle for sure, the text reads something like "the PC's ship computer receives update of border changes since you started travels, and you find yourself in disputed territory" -- that way, if the PCs snooze through it, they might fly in between the crosshairs, or maybe traps are laid by a rival government, or your destination is simply made more difficult because of it. /shrug/ Again, if too unbelievable for the setting, it could be nixed.

The initial intent of my rough table roll was that, for a long trip, a ship would have at least one encounter, yes. Otherwise, it's a pretty pointless table if even the longest trips don't have a chance of an encounter. My formula could almost certainly use tweaking through since, while unlikely, that 9 week travel COULD theoretically result in 9 different encounters.
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