Copyright 1987 by Michael R. Mikesh.
The existence of pocket universes is perhaps the most intriguing official addition made to Traveller in recent years. Pocket universes were introduced in Adventure 12: Secret of the Ancients and has been supplemented in Challenge by Marc Miller's article Grandfather's Worlds.
Artificial pocket universes are small. Grandfather made one only so large as to encompass a few parsecs of space. His children and grandchildren are unlikely to have made other pockets of a similar size due to the sheer enormity of this feat. Although artificial pockets are few, this does not preclude the possibility of natural pocket universes. If natural pockets do exist in nature, it is likely that it exists only as a shard broken off of the normal universe during the Big Bang.
The size of a natural pocket can be anything which suits the referee; sector and subsector sizes work well. It is fortunate that the stars are mapped upon a two dimensional plane in Traveller, for pocket universes close-in on themselves.
Mapping a pocket can be simplified by laying out the pocket on some sort of geodesic map grid. IS Forms 8 and 21 work well for pockets 35 parsecs in circumference, like the one illustrated.
Navigating to pocket universes is far beyond Imperial technology levels. Even though the jump drive exists, starships can hardly do anything but hurtle through the gray void. One suggestion for reaching a pocket universe is for the referee to insert an Ancient device into the campaign so that adventurers can navigate outside normal space and be carried to a neighboring pocket. The device may be a like a starship, but it should always depart from an return to the same place in normal space. More details can be derived from Frederick Pohl's novel, Gateway.
Another way starships can arrive at a pocket universe is by accident. In an especially bad situation, such as being deep in a gravity well, a starship could insert itself into a catastrophic course through jumpspace. Since this event might easily end any Traveller campaign, I simply have such ships enter a neighboring pocket universe.
Conventional jumpspace mathematics suggest that when starships misjump catastrophically, they enter jumpspace singularities and are destroyed. (See Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #24, "Jumpspace".) However, such jump equations are merely workable approximations, and theory excludes the webs of jumpspace folds and the corridors leading to pockets. Without precise formulas or ships returning from the beyond, it is probable that scientists would remain unaware of the pocket universes.
The pocket universe in the following example was drawn from this assumption. The pocket's population is largely made up of the known major races. Most inhabitants are progeny of combat vessel crews forced by some desperate circumstances into hazardous jumps.
The Microsm Pocket
Projected onto the normal universe, the Microsm Pocket is between the Ilelish and Reaver's Deep sectors. Although so situated, the folds of jumpspace leading to that pocket are such that ships from anywhere in charted space have nearly the same chance of arriving there. Travel time is never more than 6 weeks and is also seemingly independent of distance.
As a result of Kroy intervention (see following section on the Droyne), ships arriving at Microsm will always breakout at a desireable location. A human crew will find themselves near Pamirka, an Earth-like world. K'kree ships appear at R'xii, a Kirur- like world, and so on. Many worlds inside the Microsm Pocket were terraformed several millennia ago in order to be generally habitable.
The Microsm Pocket is very well populated, predominantly by the six major races; Humaniti is the most common. Many worlds are inhabited by multiple races, although one usually predominates. Racial friction makes interstellar wars frequent inside the pocket. Paradoxically, there are also many outstanding examples of inter-racial cooperation on all levels.
There is no known way to escape the Microsm Pocket. Speculation suggests that it is possible to leave by trying to jump through Dobrus, a black hold that marks the "rimward pole" of the Microsm Pocket. Several have tried it, but no one has returned to report any success. Generally, trapped ship crews elect to settle in Microsm. (Jumping through Dobrus does return the ship to the normal universe, but it will appear in a rift hopelessly too far from any civilization. If the players do make a jump through Dobrus, let them find a larger ship similarly stranded long ago. There should be just enough salvageable fuel for them to reach rescue.)
The Droyne were at Microsm since the time of the Ancients. They can be divided into two groups, the enigmatic Kroy and regular Droyne. The Kroy reside on the five worlds closest to the Dobrus black hole, collectively called the Kroy Dominate by humans. The primary world is Kroydolm (5616 A4849XA-R). They have applied their technology to give themselves an astounding and far reaching control over jumpspace. Star travel is completely at the mercy of their will, although their intervention is rare. Other Droyne worlds are less reclusive than the Kroy and range from tech-11 to tech-16. Droyne on worlds shared with other races can be of any tech level. Communications between the Kroy and the Droyne is minimal. There are no known chirpers. All Droyne worlds have garrisons.
The main human world, and the capital of the Human League, is called Pamirka (1804 A867A58-F). Pamirka was already occupied by a minor human race (called Mirkans) when the first Vilani arrived. The League is the largest human state and is governed by a system of nobility. Many languages are spoken throughout. Anglic predominates in commerce, Vilani in government, and Zhodani in the armed forces.
Gloqix (3102 A5658W4-F) is the main Hiver world and capital of the Hiver Centralate. Minor race aliens are more common inside the Cenralate as the Kroy usually put these ships at Uxblun (2301 A6859T3-F). Its cosmopolitan atmosphere has made it into the traditional site of interstellar conferences and the center for much Microsm-wide banking.
The Centaurus Range is governed from the K'kree main world R'xii (5113 A8639R3-F). Four worlds in its trailing limb were Vargr until captured by the K'kree in the latest ware. The K'kree see themselves threatened from all sides by close-in alien worlds, the most dangerous of whom are Vargr.
As in the Extents, there are no lasting interstellar states in the Vargr Sphere. Sudzorr (0309 1776974-E) however, as the Vargr main world, is consistently the most dominant of the Vargr worlds. It is also the headquarters for the Zindhar Alliance, a multi-world, multi-race organization formed to keep K'kree aggression in check.
The first Aslan starship crews to arrive at Tora'ar (4408 A8669H7-E) merged into a single clan, called the Osakehu, to aid in establishing themselves on the world. That has since divided into separate clans, but the Osakehu plays much the same role as does the Tlaukhu in the Hierate. Having arrived late in the pocket, most choice worlds were since occupied. The Aslan have since expanded, chiefly by force of arms.
The Microsm setting can have a lot of appeal, particularly to those interested in alien characters. Unlike a normal setting, all of the Alien Modules come into play at once. Beyond straight role-playing, Microsm might also serve as a medium for campaigns of Trillion Credit Squadron or even Fifth Frontier War in a modified form.