Posted: 5 July 2011 in Arioniad

“Once you’re in orbit, you’re halfway to anywhere.” – Robert A. Heinlein.

As Halfway Station will be the “base town” for Heart of the Scorpion, I should detail it first, I think. I have a clear idea of what I want it to do in the campaign, so I will create it by selecting from the various possibilities, rather than dicing for them. When creating worlds deliberately, I find it best to work backwards from the tags; although the book recommends two, I chose three – one implied by the physical characteristics of the world, and two I think will be appropriate and interesting. Since the end point was clear in my mind, Halfway took less than 10 minutes to create. Stars Without Number really shines in reducing GM preparation time.

So, I pick everything down to and including Tags, and the rulebook tells me what the rest are. I select an English culture and a representative democratic government, as those will be most familiar to myself and any likely future players, thus easiest to game.


Atmosphere: Airless. I had already decided it was an orbital station.

Temperature: Frozen. Same argument; it’s cold in space.

Biosphere: No native biosphere. No air, no water, really cold temperatures; not conducive to life as we know it.

Population: “Hundreds of thousands” of inhabitants is both the largest population the rules allow to be supported by sealed agricultural systems and hydroponics, and the smallest that can build starships. So a no-brainer for this one.

Tech Level: 4. As a major trading port, it must be able to build starships, which requires TL 4; but it should be outmatched by the Celestial Empire, which is TL 5.

Tags: Bubble Cities, Exchange Consulate, Trade Hub.

Enemies (10): Native dreading contamination, saboteur, hostile official, corrupt Exchange official, indebted native, Exchange debt collector, cheating merchant, thieving dockworker, commercial spy, corrupt customs official.

Friends (10): Local rebel, maintenance chief, surveyor, consul in need of help, banker, Exchange diplomat, rich tourist, free trader, merchant prince, spaceport urchin.

Complications (11): Bubble rupture, failing air processor, native revolt, surveillance cameras, corrupted consulate, consulate cut off from funds, powerful debtor reneges, outworld faction schemes to seize control (that would be the Celestial Empire), sabotage, blockade, pirate spies.

Things (10): Pretech habitat technology, industrial product, security system codes, Exchange vault codes, concealed wealth, forgotten vault, warehouse contents voucher, insider trading information, pharmaceuticals, tax stamps.

Places (11): Power core, bubble surface, hydroponics, habitat warren, Consulate chamber, disputants’ meeting site, Exchange vault, raucous bazaar, elegant restaurant, busy spaceport, foggy warehouse-lined street.

Conveniently, I can generate encounters randomly from the Friends and Enemies listed above using a d20, complications using a d12 (12 = no complication – hey, it has to happen sometimes), things using a d10, and places using a d12 (with 12 indicating the party’s ship).

  1. David Billinghurst says:

    Wow, sounds a little like Downbelow Station by CJ Cherryh with the ‘primitive’ hsia (natives of the planet the station orbits) acting as cleaners and maintainance crew.

    • andyslack says:

      Hmm, I have read that, so although it wasn’t what I intended, some of that colour may have crept in. 😀

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