By Gregg Giles
Notes On Encounters
The following information deals with the results rolled in the following tables. Tables will simply be referred to by its number; for example, table 3-2 will be “3-2”. Space junk consists of nothing more than either natural or man-made (or “sophont-made” in some cases) particles adrift in space, such as paint chips, dust, or minute remnants of once-larger pieces of cargo lost accidentally. Larger pieces of space junk are possible, and the referee should determine their origin, size and potential damage to the ship.
Ruins can lead into a new adventure. Ancients’ ruins will be extremely rare, and their condition may vary. But remember, these are ruins! Don’t expect to find a city of gold and working equipment!
Signals in space are mainly “man-made” (artificial). Natural signals are mainly in the form of electromagnetic fields (static) and other energy forms troublesome to radio and microwaves. “Free signals” have no local origin, and may have been traveling in space for decades – anything older would’ve already dissipated into the vastness of space. Unknown signals can be either natural interference or of any alien origin.
When detailing encounters in an “active” (inhabited) system, be sure not to use charts 3-2 to 3-7, for they are for “inactive” system encounters only. Referee, use your discretion, ideas and plans when you develop a result from the active encounters chart. (If I charted out every detail for you, you’d be bound to the variables I’d thought of – there are certainly more than I’ve laid out. Besides, there isn’t room for it all!) For example, the chart isn’t too specific about being “hailed for communication”; you’ve been left with plenty of freedom to develop the encounter however you wish (possibly, rebels on a nearby planet are hailing you, or maybe its simply a bored pilot or navigator who needs to talk to someone). When determining damage done by space junk, keep your plans in mind – maybe you’d like to keep them in this system for a while, so damage a vital component of the ship, like the avionics or thrusters. (If missing for more than five days, the armada will send a rescue ship to the probable location of the characters’ ship.)
Roll for active or inactive encounters as long as you deem necessary. A good rule is rolling every 3 hours of game time. Rolling every 6 or 12 hours is also convenient, and it hastens up the characters’ progress towards their next objective.
Derelict vessels typically met an unfortunate fate, such as sudden decompression when hit by a micrometeorite or when attacked by another ship. As per 3-4, most derelicts have been thoroughly trashed by the initial incident, space and time. “Fair” condition means that the component is repairable but only with the proper tools and skills. The rolls required depend on the problem to fix.
“Other explorers” will almost always be from the same expedition the characters are attached to. Also, encountered minor races are most likely aligned to the Zhodani (and were likely given the jump drive by the Zhodani, as well).
When coming into contact with an unknown alien race, be prepared to create information on all aspects of them, such as physiology, psychology, society, government and more.