Building the Antares Sector

Posted: 7 June 2011 in Arioniad (2009)

My first Classic Traveller campaign was set around the red giant star Antares, 180 parsecs from Earth; that’s far enough away that nobody really knows what’s in the vicinity – even in the 1970s, I was concerned that advances in astronomy might overtake my creation. Not that the players would have minded, or even noticed, probably. Likewise, the campaign was set around 3,000 AD, during the decline of the Terran Empire (I was a big fan of Poul Anderson’s Flandry stories); that was with the idea that the game date would be the current date plus 1,000 years, for similar reasons.

So, for a retro-inspired campaign, it felt appropriate to return to Antares. Shuffle the timeline a little, and rename the Empire as the Mandate, and you’re there. I generated a sector using the Stars Without Number rules, then moved some tags and stats around to make more sense – an Outpost tag is better suited to a world with that population level, for instance, rather than one with billions of inhabitants. Here is the map (a work in progress) as stands after the first pass:

antares01

Two things leapt out at me from this exercise; first, that because world statistics are independent of each other, it’s faster to create a sector in SWN than a subsector in CT; and second, as I expected, the Tags system combined with the adventure seeds takes me straight from dice rolls to scenarios, without my usual brain-racking to extract an adventure from the world stats. Overall, a significant reduction in prep time over CT – I like this.

In a massive retcon, I also recycled worlds I found interesting from previous seasons of the Arioniad, and fleshed them out using the SWN tags system. Planets from season 1 have become the Attica Cluster, and the Imagoes remain in play, although they are now off-map to the "south". If you like, you can imagine this as an artifact of changing the map scale, since SWN doesn’t specify one.

Fortuitously, the map gave me several clusters of worlds connected by spike-3 routes centred on an isolated system; I declared the isolated system to be Halfway Station (smirk), and inferred a merchant combine controlling the spike-3 routes. This is a nod to CT, where jump-1 subsidised merchants provided regular service within clusters of worlds, and jump-3 ones service between them. It even looks a bit like a scorpion.

The Terran Mandate calls to mind the Chinese concept of the mandate of heaven, so I gave the regional hegemon world a Chinese culture. The Combine and the Attica Cluster I gave British cultures, since most SWN PCs speak English, and there must be a reason why that language is so common. Harking back to ancient Greece again, the Cluster isn’t unified politically, but does have a single culture. Astronomically speaking Gimirr is part of the Cluster, but culturally it is separate.

SWN recommends 3-4 factions to begin with, so I select a Regional Hegemon (for the Celestial Empire) and a Merchant Combine (for Halfway) from the stock factions in the rulebook, and will shortly create a third one for the Corinthian Scout Service – Arion’s patron. The Combine is probably no friend of the Empire, since the Empire’s spike-6 capability has the potential to undermine the Combine’s monopoly on trade, and turn their homeworld of Halfway Station into an irrelevant backwater.

Logically, there should also be at least one set of rebels somewhere in the Empire, and Arion should try to contact them; but I’ll leave that for now.

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