Heading to Goblin’s Planet
This session of Traveller was a good example of the fact that being prepared doesn’t always help. I knew where the PCs were wanting to go, and there were only a limited number of routes for getting there. I also knew it would probably be useful for them to get access to information about their destination, given that Goblin’s Planet was a red zone and considered dangerous.
So I’d put a lot of effort into figuring out what was known at each of their stop-off points, both about the planets ahead and their final destination. They wouldn’t necessarily stop to collect information at every system, but probably enough to build up a picture of where they were headed.
I even planned for an encounter with a friendly ship which would be willing to provide some useful information.
So come the session, the players obviously decided to avoid talking to anyone, bypassing almost every opportunity to find out anything. They had a good reason for doing so – they had a hard deadline of when they needed to meet up with the Deepnight Revelation so wanted to move as quickly as possible – but I had expected a bit more interaction to happen and had tried to make sure that they weren’t feeling too rushed. There had been a plan to trade along the way, as part of their cover more than anything, but also decided against that and changed their choice of NPCs from an engineer and a broker to a couple of engineers.
They left Stormhaven (The Beyond/1724) on 1108-121, with a deadline of meeting back with the Deepnight on 1108-231 at Goal Terminus (The Beyond/0935). The original plan had been to meet at Mien (The Beyond/1031) in the Nakris Confederation, which would probably be a safer destination, but Goal Terminus would be easier to reach in the given time.
We are currently down to two players, and one of them decided that his character, Khadashi, would spend the trip in cold sleep, which meant it was one PC and a bunch of NPCs that were actually available to do anything on the trip.
From Stormhaven, they headed to a gas giant at Bar Shellan, then jumped into the middle of nowhere and transferred fuel from their expandable fuel bladders into the main fuel tanks, and jumped to Quatal. Since they had to refuel both their tanks and their fuel bladders, they laded at the starport at Quatal and purchased fuel.
Whilst Zanobia handled the refuelling, I had Trennance and Shinzaro head to the local bars to stretch their legs, get something to drink and talk to people. Off by themselves, they did pick up some information which might be useful to them later.
- There are secret stashes in deep space, used by various traders, pirates and other groups. Each group has its own secret coordinates.
- The population at Lotrakoast was wiped out some decades ago. There was a human settlement there, which was attacked by Aslan, then the Nakris Confederation retaliated and wiped out the Aslan. Nobody lives there now.
- Goblin’s Planet is off-limits. It is a dangerous place. The jump mask is twice as large as it should be, stretching all the way out to the asteroid belt. There are stories there of strange things happening to ships. There is a giant mountain there with the face of a Goblin carved into it, 10km tall.
From there, they headed out for another double jump to Turtsirho, refilling their tanks from extra fuel tanks whilst out in deep space. At Turtsirho they headed to one of the distant gas giants around the second star to refuel, then jumped for Ember.
After a rather fast trip the crew were somewhat looking forward to getting out of the ship and taking a break. Ember is a far binary system which is officially unpopulated – at least according to Imperium survey records. The second star is a hot white dwarf which actually has a narrow circumstellar habitable zone in which is a small world with an extensive biosphere and surface water. There are humans living here, mostly hunter gatherer tribes with a bronze age level of technology.
They take the opportunity to stretch their legs and give the ship an overhaul – it’s been a couple of months without any real servicing, and their engineer Exsa is a bit concerned about the drive systems. Nothing she can’t fix though.
On arrival, Khadashi is brought out of cold sleep, and Shinzaro prepares for landing. She picks up a transponder signal from an Aslan ship – it identifies itself as a 200t Kteiroa class Seeker, the Seeker of Stars. After a short while, the Aslan send a greeting to the Sex Thing and identify their intentions as potentially friendly. The crew though decide to avoid them as much as possible, and head around to the opposite hemisphere to land and begin refuelling.
The Aslan leave, and the crew keep a close eye on them as they head out to jump, concerned that they may be planning a missile attack or will have left mines in orbit. This was meant to be a friendly encounter with a bunch of Aslan scouts who know the region well, but the PCs had no interest in actually conversing with them, which does mean that they’ll be going into Goblin’s Planet blind as to some of the things there.
After about a week, they spot some of the natives approaching and decide to leave.
They already know that the jump mask at Goblin’s Planet is twice the normal diameter, so have to plan where they want to come out of jump.
There is an asteroid belt around the edge of the jump mask, and the system’s only gas giant is currently over the other side of the system.
The Sex Thing plots a course to take it off to the side of the star, as close to the gas giant as they can get. This will mean a long flight into the gas giant for refuelling (where they want to make sure they are fully fuelled with 4 parsecs worth of fuel), plus a longer flight towards the main world.
Overall, this session went a lot quicker than I expected. There was less interaction at the star systems, and the players seemed keen on moving things forward quickly, so the NPCs didn’t do much either. I think I was generous in how long it too to refuel at each system – it’s one thing I still don’t have a good intuitive grasp on, and I preferred to underestimate so not to screw over the players on their deadline. I should really sit down and work out the details of how long things would have taken, just to try and give myself a better grasp of such things.
Next session though they will get the opportunity to explore the system and head to the planet.
Addendum: Sitting down and working through actual times for getting to planets, refuelling and that sort of thing, it’s worked out pretty close to the estimates I came up with during the session.
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There are time when players are so mission-focused, they miss out on some things. In your scenario, I might have told the PCs that they wouldn’t be penalized deadline-wise for having some conversations with the locals (within reason being an important caveat). Might be other aspects to your game which would make that not work so well, but a thought. Especially if you came up with something cool and memorable — would be a shame for watch-watching PCs to slide right by it.
There are things I could have done. There also could have been chatter between ships when they were at the gas giants, rather than having to go down to a star port for a conversation. None of the information is vital, it might just allow them to make more informed decisions later on.