From Small Details

Yesterday, I spent a little time playing around with the 1977 Traveller subsector design rules. Printing off a subsector map, I rolled 1D for each hex and populated the whole 8×10 hex grid with worlds. Following the rules, I rolled for Starport types at each world and then rolled for the trade routes. Picking a world near the centre of the map, I decided to roll up the stats for that system and… well, it got quite interesting.

0506 Iziyum D77653-6 doesn’t seem all that auspicious. Here’s what it meant to me:

  • A poor quality starport, although there is also a Scout base present.
  • 7000 miles diameter with a Standard but tainted atmosphere.
  • 60% water; 300,000 inhabitants.
  • Balkanised government: law level applies to the largest settlement near the starport.
  • Weapons controls on anything of a strict military nature – these are prohibited.
  • Tech Level 6 = autorifles, missiles/rocket launchers; Model 1/bis computers; television; submersibles; ATV/AFV; rotary wing aircraft; fission power.

It got me imagining and, taking a leaf from the Solo GM’s Guide, I decided to write a short piece from the perspective of a person living there. Here’s the extract:

I don’t know how the war started but it left the world a shattered place. Some say the Empire abandoned us and the warlords fought over the spoils but I think it’s more likely the world was already falling apart before the Imperials disappeared from sight. They say there is a starport somewhere up near Kalinin City and that freighters trade with the Intendant who rules there, but I have never been there. Sometimes you will hear the distant roar of an engine and see the contrail of some flying vessel heading up into the atmosphere.

The continent here is a patchwork of forest and grassy plains punctuated with small settlements, each town a point of refuge ruled by its own warlord. Violence is the norm, especially if you dare to leave the town you grew up in an strike out across the lands between. There is coin to be made if you want it, trading between settlements or serving the needs of communities divided by the incessant raids from outlaws. Wherever you are seeking to go, make sure you carry a gun and try not to go it alone for too long.

There are strange folk in the lonely places of the world, those with the power of magic or bearing lost lore from the time of Empire. At least, that is what most people will tell you. Whether this is legend I cannot say, but there are certainly strange folk abroad. There are also deadly beasts, for when the bombs fell and the earth burned it scarred the wild things and mutated them. Beware of predators, especially the forest cats and raptors.

Who am I? A wanderer, one who left the town I grew up in because I could not bear to see another friend executed by the Intendant’s security men. Our sheriff was a good man but they came and slaughtered those who would resist, taking our meagre food supply and forcing the workers to submit. Although we were many miles from Kalinin City, they arrived in rotorwings and fought with rifles which poured out bullets faster than anything I had seen.

I guess that makes me a coward and a fugitive. I just keep moving, walking northwest into the forests and heading for the mountains. They say that there are pockets of resistance up there, old bunkers and supply dumps left over from the war. I don’t hold much hope but it beats slavery at the hand of the Indendant’s men.

I found myself fascinated by this world that had spun out from seven digits generated from the Traveller world generation system. By going with the flow, allowing myself to follow the rules of the game, I had worked on just one world and discovered so much richness that I wanted to bring its characters to life.

It’s intriguing to me, this power of the imagination: how we can draw so much detail from a very humble beginning and bring it to the gaming table. Now I am left wondering what other interesting worlds populate that subsector and how I might find a way to explore them.

Game on!

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