Traveller RPG Week Day Six: The Neighbours of Hell Station
Hell Station floats amid the noxious clouds of the Gas Giant Malebolge, fifth planet in the Ptolomaea System. It acts as home base for a fledgling group of Traveller adventurers, but where do they go when they want to fly the nest?
Here’s an overview of the stellar systems within Jump-2 range of Ptolomaea system. Each one can be the potential location for many adventures, and that will be the topic for Day Seven where we look at Patron Encounters.
In each system I’ll give an overview of the main world though some systems may well have secondary or tertiary planets of interest. That leaves room for even this tiny little patch of space to expand as needed. Which is handy.
Caina is ruled by a faceless bureaucracy – literally faceless as all administrators wear masks that denote their rank according to a strictly documented code. No bureaucrat knows the identity of their superior or co-workers. This has inevitably led to intense competition, intrigue and counter-espionage as state employees continually blackmail and assassinate their way through the ranks. Pity the poor innocent Traveller who gets caught in a war between rivals from the Stationary and Sundries Division (J Group).
Thankfully, the Extreme Law Level keeps the worst of the violence to the shadows – possession of even so much as a pocket knife can result in the mandatory completion of 145 forms, all in triplicate. A fate, some would say, worse that imprisonment.
Antenora (pronounced antinora, not Auntie Nora. Getting it wrong is a guaranteed way to annoy the natives) is permanent home to just 20 people, all of whom claim to be descendants of a mythical line of kings. The well-maintained Orbital Starport is manned by students and historians who come from across the known worlds to examine the many historically unique documents stored on planet. Every year a single lottery is held, the winner of which is granted 3 months’ unlimited access to the planet-wide library. The price of the tickets bring much-needed wealth into the planet that is used to keep the ravages of Antenora’s insidious atmosphere away from the ancient tomes. The idea of moving the library to somewhere less damaging to the books is viewed as heresy.
The system is also home to a Scout Base, though rumours persist that this is merely a front for an Imperium Spy Base which continually monitors the information discovered by historians in the library.
Antenora possesses this cluster of system’s only X-Boat Waystation. All news to and from the rest of Known Space passes through this system. Another reason, some would say, for the presence of the Spy…. I mean, Scout Base.
Judecca is a lawless dustbowl frontier world where petty warlords vie to carve out their own patch of dirt before they end up under it. The only laws worth a damn in Judecca are shoot first and if the gun ain’t pointing at you, look the other way.
The low Tech Level reflects the fact precious few people know how to repair stuff, let alone build it. When the dense atmosphere put a ‘droid out of action its left to rot where it stands. Many end up riddled with bullet holes soon enough, anyhow.
It’s wise to avoid Judecca unless you’re a bounty hunter, tough frontiersman or need place to lay low for a while. Judecca folks don’t ask no questions ‘bout nothin’.
The planet Ptolomaea is, compared to those in its neighbouring stellar systems, surprisingly normal. If you consider a planet that’s home to 5 million intelligent winged serpents normal. The continents posses a diversity that could almost be called Earth-like with swamps, tundras, polar ice caps and a wide jungle belt surrounding the equator. Each different terrain type is home to a unique species of winged serpent that generally keep to themselves.
The Type C Down Starport sits on a hard-fought patch of land. When the Imperium reached Ptolomaea they fought an intense battle with the natives of this region that resulted in the extinction of an entire species of winged serpents.
Centuries later, there are still muttered rumours as to what would happen if the other races of winged serpents united to drive out the invaders…..
The key thing to remember about coming to Phlegyas is: don’t. If the almost 80% pure arsenic atmosphere doesn’t kill you, the natives will. These naturally arsenic breathing humanoids are extremely xenophobic, and with good reason. The Imperium is purposefully holding back their Tech Level planet-wide to keep them from reaching the stars. In effect, Phlegyans are imprisoned on their own planet. The original reason for this interdiction is lost to time (though perhaps it is recorded in the library at Antenora), but their xenophobic attitudes keep them there. Despite the interdiction, some few Phlegyans do manage to make it off-world and are occasionally blamed for terrorism throughout the Imperium. Whether there are any truths to these links is, of course, a different matter.
There is a small but growing Cult of the Imperial Overlords growing among the younger Phlegyans that worship the Imperium as gods and claim that the restrictions placed on them is for their own good. They point to the damage done to other planets by high-technology, and sing praises that this will never happen to them.
The closest most Imperials get to Phlegyas is the Orbital Starport – a very well maintained facility which keeps a distrustful watch over goings-on planetside.
The good thing about Phlegethon is that it is almost entirely a water world. The bad thing is the 2,200mph winds that continually encircle the planet. The only “safe” zone is at the poles where small Down Starport landing strips play host to a regular Extreme Surfing event. Surfers come from all over the Imperium to try their hand at the event. The courses are graded by wind speed from the trainee “mild” 120mph at the poles themselves upwards. Most surfers end up with the flesh stripped from their bones within seconds of (trying to) stand up. It makes for great TV, and is syndicated Imperium wide.
Rivalry between the poles of Phlegethon intensifies every four years where each pole tries to attract the best surfers in a bid to reclaim The Bones, a golden trophy which contains the remains of the first (and only) surfer to successfully circumnavigate the equator. He did it in just over 7 hours.
Next: Patron Encounters
The Classic Traveller Starter Kit is currently available for free from RPGNow. It contains all you need to play Traveller including rules for character, world, sector, starship and encounter generation as well as two complete classic adventures to kick start your own exploration among the stars. Go get it!