Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Inspiration: Science Fiction Edition

Radoxist: "Worth enough"

Do yourself a favor and click through to Radoxist's site and look at this full size.  The level of detail here is amazing.  (Check out the alternate views, too - a couple of them are top-down views of the low-tech area, and could make for excellent battlemaps.)

What is this place?  I picture a Traveller game where someone randomly rolled a Class A spaceport and a low tech level:

Dekha  ???? A7658D9-5 Ga Ri Lt

Dekha is a frontier world caught between two extremes: the religious settlers who were originally granted the charter for the world and the needs of the Imperium.  After a political upheaval in the area (Aslan invasion, Zhodani incursion, civil war or the like) cut off the main avenue of trade, Dekha became the only viable Jump-2 route to several strategically and economically important worlds.

While the Dakhans have allowed the Imperium to build a thriving starport on their world, their religious beliefs cause them to live a simple life apart from technology. Still, the cultural tendrils of the Imperium (and the needs of the starport) have been eating away at the nearby community.

(Trade codes are generated using the Mongoose Traveller - Classic Traveller would not have any of these codes.)

Biggest Star Ever Discovered
You may have seen this around, but the New Scientist had a good piece a couple weeks back on the largest star ever found.  It's about 265 times the size of the sun, is shedding mass rapidly with violent solar winds, and is an excellent candidate for tearing itself apart in an antimatter-fueled supernova.  Sounds like a fun place to visit!  Here's a few ideas involving R136a1 or a similar star:
  1. The star could be inconveniently placed in an area that must be traversed, making it a hazard to navigation.  (Its size and antimatter-producing core might even affect travel via warp or hyperspace, depending on the mechanism.)  Or maybe the system just offers a tempting "shortcut" that could shave off a significant amount of travel time - if you're willing to risk it.
  2. The high solar winds and unpredictable conditions make it a perfect place for "extreme" solar sailing, with speeds and maneuvers impossible under normal conditions.  A space regatta here could be a social event, a test of skill, or the scene of a disaster, depending on your players.
  3. The size of such a star might make it attractive for a scientific station or expedition researching star formation.  Characters might need to take vital supplies to the base through a dangerous solar storm, or might need to infiltrate and steal the data for their employers. (Perhaps the base's mission is not as innocent as it claims? Could they be researching how to cause the same sort of instability in other stars?)
  4. For extremely high-tech settings, the star could be the site of an antimatter "mining" operation (which might also keep the star more stable).  What happens when there's a Deepspace Horizon disaster? What if there's an inhabited system nearby?
  5. A star this size would normally have no planets of any kind, let alone habitable ones.  If there was a planet orbiting this star, it might indicate that the system was not naturally formed at all.  If your campaign has Ancients, Precursors, or similar, then the planet may well be a veritable treasure vault.

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