I’ve decided to use the travel scenes to build background, with the cunning plan of only working out planets as they become necessary; the subsector map will thus be a work in progress, like the timeline. This goes to the overall scheme of gaming on the run, namely using free time for playing as much as possible, and preparation only when essential.
Having used the map of St Paul’s journeys to locate planets on a subsector map, and decided to use his journeys on that map as the trade routes, I now move on to individual worlds. I could work out a complex algorithm for generating world profiles from real-world data, but given I’m only working on one planet at a time, what I’m actually doing is reading entries for the present-day equivalent of that area in the CIA World Factbook and on Wikipedia, and just making stuff up. Cyrene is the next port of call, and by this method I determine its profile to be 0204-E453366-6 Ni G Na.
Dmitri and Arion are sitting in the bridge of the Dolphin, watching the jump clock count down to the point where they emerge back into realspace. It’s a big number, and ticking away slowly.
“I get why we went back from Delphi to Tainaron, and why you rammed a gas giant for fuel instead of heading insystem and landing,” says Dmitri, “but you still haven’t told me anything about Cyrene.”
“Not much to tell,” Arion replies. “About four years ago there was a famine on Thera, and they dealt with it by exporting a few thousand of their surplus population to Cyrene.”
“Did that work?”
“Depends what you mean by work. Did it have any impact on the famine, or the cause of the famine? No. Did it make it look like the government was decisive and in control? Absolutely. Did they rid themselves of a faction they didn’t want causing trouble at home? Oh yes.” Arion looks at Dmitri askance. “I would’ve expected a spy to know about that sort of thing.” Dmitri dismisses this comment with a wave. Arion summons a standard display of the world to the inside of the main viewscreen, currently opaque to shield their eyes and minds from the insanity of jumpspace.
“So, let me translate those numbers for you: The starport is a flat piece of bedrock with a hut on it. The planet is about 6,500 km across, atmosphere thin but breathable, 30% water – pretty dry by most people’s standards – and the population is still only a few thousand. Technically, the colonial governor is answerable to Thera, but to be honest Thera doesn’t much care what he does, and if they did, they’re a couple of weeks away in jumpspace and don’t have any power to project. Hunting weapons are legal, so I can pack the knife and gun, but military ones aren’t, in case you managed to sneak something aboard. Tech level 6 if that means anything to you, not that it matters because they don’t have the population to support a manufacturing base.”
“Sounds like a real dump. Why would Schrodinger be interested?” For answer, Arion zooms in on an area near the starport.
“Most of the water and vegetation on the planet is concentrated around the starport, or rather, the starport was built near where the water is. And just outside the starport is this…” The view continues expanding until a vine-covered stepped pyramid appears.
“The Cyrene Pyramid. Nobody knows who built it, or why; people argue a lot about when. My guess is that Schrodinger wants something inside it. And I also think he would have hired a local guide to take him there. We find the guide, we find out what he’s up to.”
Reflections: Working out the background is fun, but it’s taking up a lot of time. Once I get to the end of the current adventure I’ll review whether to shift Arion into a pre-generated subsector so I have more playing time – all it would need is a misjump.