Sunday, February 7, 2021

One Roll (Space) Exploration

My one-roll exploration tables can be adapted for space! Some simple rules for space travel follow.

Travel between star systems is achieved through the jump drive, a technology that lets a ship translate itself into the higher-dimensional parallel realm of gate-space and back into real space at specific naturally-occuring "jump points" or through artificially induced jump gates. Distances in gate-space are sufficiently different to realspace to permit travel between star systems on the order of weeks or months. Gate-space and realspace only coincide at jump points and gates; objects in gatespace cannot otherwise interact with realspace and vice versa (as far as modern science is aware). Jump points can be calculated at long distance given sufficient information about the gravitational bodies in a star system.

Exploration Table (2d6)
2-3: 2 Complications
4-5: 1 Question, 2 Complications
6-8: 1 Question, 1 Complication
9-10: 2 Questions, 1 Complication
11-12: 2 Questions
You can forego asking a question to reduce the number of complications you suffer by 1.
Interstellar Travel
Travel through gate-space costs fuel just like through realspace. While relative distances don't proportionately translate, most para-astrogation charts measure stars' distances in "jumps". 1 fuel gets you 1 jump of travel. Make the Exploration roll each time you enter into realspace from a jump point.

Who do I know here?
Where in this system is safest to rest and restock?
What threats can we expect in this system?
What's the most dangerous threat to us in this system?
What's being hidden from the wider galaxy?
Where are we?

1. Deplete fuel by 1 level.
2. Deplete rations by 1 level.
3. Gain 1 level of Stress.
4. System failure aboard ship, will require repairs.
5. Contact inbound, hailing your ship.
6. Someone in the system is immediately hostile to you - and they know you're here.

Interplanetary Travel
The fuel cost to travel between two bodies in one star system is the number of orbits they are apart. This can be reduced by 1 for each planet you get a gravity assist from on the way, though common assist trajectories are often policed, taxed, or raided. Make the Exploration roll each time you enter the orbit of a planet or sensor range of a station (if it's your destination, or you're getting a gravity assist from it).
Who do I know on this planet (or station or moon or whatever)?
Where can we safely land?
What's the greatest danger to us here?
What is the hardest threat to notice here?
What's out of place here?
What's recently happened here?

1. Deplete fuel by 1 level.
2. Deplete rations by 1 level.
3. Gain 1 level of Stress.
4. System failure aboard ship, will require repairs.
5. Contact inbound, hailing your ship.
6. Someone near this planet is hostile to you - and they know you're here.
Stress, among other things, provides -1 to future Exploration rolls. It can be reduced by getting proper R&R in port, or with a variety of medications that have interesting side effects.

System Generation
Systems have 3d4 orbits, each filled on the following d20 table. If the resulting system lacks jump points or stations with jump gates, add one in so the players can actually get there.
The galaxy is a stranger place than we could ever have imagined. If some of these results don't make sense at first glance, justify them yourself (that's half the fun). Write new tables for habitation, for plot hooks, for factions inhabiting these systems - Deep Space Bitches might end up using this for setting generation. The implied setting below is vaguely similar to Mothership, a corporatist spacefuture with lots of ill-fated ventures that go horribly wrong but manage to hang on in new and fascinating dystopian conditions.

What's in this orbit? (d20)
1. Terrestrial planet, class Red. Desert, no surface liquid water. Reference Sol IV "Mars", Luyten's Star III "Arrakis".
2. Terrestrial planet, class Orange. Inhospitably hot, typically due to proximity to star and/or tectonic activity. Reference Proxima Centauri I, Delta Pavonis V "Haven" (and accompanying 23XX Haven Goldrush Crisis documentation).
3. Terrestrial planet, class Yellow. Dense, toxic atmosphere. Reference Sol II "Venus".
4. Terrestrial planet, class Green. Lush, extensive biosphere. Highly valuable, most often product of terraforming. Reference Sol III "Earth" and Epsilon Indi IV "Chen's World" for naturally occurring class Green worlds; Procyon VIa "Novaterra" for successful induction and maintenance of class Green conditions on a gas giant moon.
5. Terrestrial planet, class Blue. Primarily liquid surface; not necessarily liquid water. Reference Alpha Centauri II "Cetacea".
6. Terrestrial planet, class Purple. Inhospitably cold, due to distance from primary or atmospheric composition. Reference 61 Cygni V "Billiard", Sol IX "Pluto" (EDITOR'S NOTE: Planetary status irrelevant to example. Whether it's a dwarf planet or a planet-planet, it's still cold. Discussion locked).
7. Terrestrial planet, class Grey. Barren, deemed unfit for human settlement. Covers a myriad range of conditions - high/low gravity, radiation, hostile presence, absence of profitable resources. Reference Sol I "Mercury", Gliese 876 VII "K'thhz".
8. Roll twice and combine (on an 8, roll an extra d8, keep going).
9. Gas giant, class Magenta. Faint ring, d4 major moons (roll up as terrestrial planets). Reference Sol V "Jupiter".
10. Gas giant, class Coral. Major ring, d2 major moons. Reference Sol VI "Saturn".
11. Superjovian sub-brown-dwarf, class Maroon. Reference DT Virginis c.
12. Ice giant, class Navy. d2 major moons. Reference Sol VIII "Neptune", inner-system hot-Neptune Gliese 687 II.
13. Ice giant, class Cyan. Ringed, d2 major moons. Reference Sol VII "Uranus".
14. Asteroid field.
15. Asteroid field, d3 dwarf planets (treat as moons).
16. Debris field (d3: 1. hulled stations, 2. starship junkyard, 3. battlefield debris).
17. Station.
18. Station and jump gate.
19. Jump point (natural).
20. Anomaly. Roll for 3 keywords that describe it on the following d20 table.
    1. RELIC
    3. VAST
    4. GATE
    5. GROWING
    8. ONE-OF-MANY
    11. ORGANIC
    12. HOLY
    13. SWARM
    14. WORLD
    15. DEAD
    16. CLOUD
    19. HOSTILE
Terrestrial planets (results 1-10) have d4-1 moons. Just because a terrestrial planet isn't class Green doesn't imply there's no life, just that it's orders of magnitude less prevalent than Earth - extremophiles develop and thrive in a wondrous range of environments.

Often, a planet cannot be described with a single class designation; standard Agency recording process is to mark down two primary classes and put further clarification in addenda. Examples follow, planet designations referenced from deep-storage archive THRONE-OF-SALT.
Gliese 687 I "Han Xiangzhi", Red-Orange. Hyperactive tectonics cause constant lava flows, surface comprised of shifting plains of igneous rock. Surface changes on scale of decades, rather than millennia, exposing valuable minerals that require rapid extraction for maximized rate of return.
Wolf 1061 IV "St. Severian", Red-Yellow. Global dust storms of micronized silicates abrade unshielded survey equipment and environment suits within hours. Inhalation through standard suit filters causes permanent lung damage.
Luyten's Star III "Arrakis", Red-Green. Dunes conceal vast ecosystem mirroring sea life, but under sand. Source of "sandwurm" pest species and apex predator (Harenaevurmis shaihulud) now endemic to most deserts on life-bearing class Red planets.
61 Cygni I "Mirror Mirror", Red-Blue. Planet's surface covered in thin film of mercury (average recorded depth, excluding outliers: 0.3 meters).
61 Cygni V "Billiard", Red-Purple. Frozen wasteland. Nevertheless, prevalent helium-3 deposits make mining a profitable enterprise.
Epsilon Eridani IV "Dead Heat", Red-Grey. Plans to bombard planet with ice comets from outer system lost economic traction after crash of 'XX. Stellar radiation stripped away what little atmosphere the project had created. Remaining colonists and support workers evacuated (survival rate 85% immediate, 25% ten-year projection).  Grey status appended.
Sol II "Venus", Orange-Yellow. High-pressure sulfuric atmosphere, theorized to be the result of a runaway greenhouse effect. Aerostats can be floated on the upper atmosphere with little difficulty, where temperatures are comfortable compared to the blistering surface.
Delta Pavonis III "Lathe", Orange-Green. Organisms that would be considered extremophiles in Earth-based biospheres can independently flourish in vastly different conditions. Undersea vents on Earth play host to sulfur-metabolizing archaeobacteria, and hothouse worlds have been found to play host to entire ecosystems of sessile or free-floating colony-creatures that evolved in an environment where those conditions are common.
Epsilon Indi A I "Whiskey-on-the-Rocks", Orange-Blue. Oceans perpetually boiling, storming. Only source of liquid water in system.
YZ Ceti II "Chimera", Orange-Purple. Tidally locked; one side burning, one side freezing. Efforts to classify tidally locked planets in their own color, due to their prevalence, are ongoing.
Barnard's Star I "Hellmouth", Orange-Grey. Small, close to its parent star. Metal deposits are relatively poor, but proximity has led to disputes between rival hypercorporate celebrity-executives over who gets to dismantle it to build a Dyson swarm (a concept which still remains outside their capabilities, according to Agency analysts).
Lacaille 9352 III "Sekhmet", Yellow-Green. Atmosphere filled with fungal blooms; corrode most metals, all organics not native to the planet. Ecosystem fascinating, diverse, and hyper-competitive on microscopic level, atmosphere ensures nothing larger survives.
Teegarden's Star II "Circe", Yellow-Blue. Ammonia oceans and atmosphere. Avoids class Grey status because of ease of harvesting by properly shielded craft, necessity for farming and terraforming operations in-system and across sector.
Struve 2398 B IV "Menelik", Yellow-Purple. Cold, dense atmosphere where semi-solid cloudbergs drift across the sky. Construction of sky-palaces for tourist ventures and megarich getaways currently underway, highly promising.
Groombridge 34 A VII "Bad News", Yellow-Grey. Atmosphere of volatile fluorides. Miraculous that it hasn't exploded yet.
Sol III "Earth", Green-Blue. Class maintained through artificial reterraforming/radiation-scrubbing techniques and legacy status due to cultural importance to off-world population.
Sirius V "Nessus", Green-Purple. Highly elliptical orbit has led to ecosystem that hibernates in near-cryostasis conditions for centuries, waking for a decade on close approach to its star. First waking cycle since initial discovery will occur in X years.
Tau Ceti IV "Ram Setu", Blue-Purple. Water oceans beneath ice crust, kept liquid by tidal forces. Green status rejected due to corporate request despite recent megafauna discoveries to protect sub-crustal hotels from environmentalist interference.
GJ 1061 VI "So I Get to Name This Planet Anything I Want?", Blue-Grey. Ocean of hydrochloric acid makes mining operations economically unfeasible.
Interstellar Object 9b2193r.3X12 "Polyphemus", Purple-Grey. Rogue planet. Location discovered in course of establishing trade route through third-expansion antispinward worlds. Subject of various baseless conspiracy theories, equidistant position from twelve different ICARUS AXIOM anomalies deemed coincidental.
Each terrestrial planet, gas giant, asteroid field, anomaly, or jump point may have d3-1 notable stations.

Roll again for each planet, moons, or station to see if it's inhabited. Based on how developed you want the system to be, it can be anything from 1-in-6 to a 5-in-6 chance. Then, roll for the nature of the habitation (d20)
1. Metropolitan hub, administrative/luxury.
2. Metropolitan hub, manufacturing.
3. Metropolitan hub, independent.
4. Waystation port, refueling/resupply.
5. Extractive operation (1. precious metals, 2. food, 3. water, 4. helium-3 fuel, 5. plastics, 6. unique).
6. Research installation.
7. Outlaws. Left alone by authorities, for now.
8. Wildlife preserve.
9. Refugee camps fleeing recent disaster in-system.
10. Luxury production (1. medical, 2. entertainment, 3. technology, 4. vacation destination, 5. fashion, 6. food)
11. Frontier goldrush, started d20 years ago. The higher the number, the closer it is to fizzling out.
12. Subsistence farming, mostly self-sufficient. Have adapted to environment in novel ways.
13. First-wave colony, from pre-FTL era. Diverged for centuries without outside contact.
14. Trillionaire's private world. Playground for their whims.
15. Fortification, tactically vital for system/sector defense. Fleet in parking orbit, armed to the teeth.
16. Starship drydock and construction facility (1. military, 2. corporate, 3. local planetary gov't, 4. independent, 5. criminal, 6. contested between 2+ factions).
17. Archeological dig
18. Experimentalist colony (1. anarcho-capitalist, 2. doomsday cult, 3. fascist ethnonationalist, 4. leftist splinter, 5. singularitarian transhumanist, 6. historical reconstructionist).
19. Roll twice, both are present.
20. Roll three times, all three are present.

Some stations will be uninhabited. No station is built and just left there - there's a reason it was abandoned.
1. Plague.
2. War.
3. Famine.
4. Necropolitics.
5. Cult ideology.
6. Economic incentives.
7. Lost funding before completion.
8. Failed uprising.
9. Mechanical failure, 5d20% evacuated.


  1. Yeah yeah yeah yeah YEAH YEAH YEAH!

  2. Hell to the yeahhh I could read a hundred more of those planets and still come back for more. Love the generator symbols as well!

    1. Also looks like the colours haven't gone through the generator correctly, just replace every instance of ’’ with a single ' and it should work correctly

    2. Ok that was meant to be "& # 8 2 1 7 ; & # 8 2 1 7 ;" with the spaces removed instead of the weird quote


Most Recent Post

With Great Power: a Superhero World

A Quick and Dirty History Lesson The first superheroes emerged into the fraught landscape of Prohibition-era American, post-war Europe, and ...