Wednesday, January 02, 2008

one down, forty-odd to go

So I've started dicing up a random Classic Traveller subsector, because I don't have quite enough side projects just yet. The first world on my list to flesh out is Razlfrax. It's Universal Planetary Profile (i.e. its statline) is C-100200-8. Unpacking that for the uninitiated, what we have here is a small, airless rockball with a few hundred people living in a state of anarchy. They have an average starport and tech level 8 equipment. All in all, that's not much material to work with. It's a lame little world. But since it's the first world I'm tackling for this subsector, I want to make something cool of it.

TL 8 includes laser and fusion power, so it's nothing to sneeze at. How do a couple hundred folks with no real organization above the family level maintain such tech? For that matter, how do they keep a starport operational? The easy answer here is that they don't. The starport is fully automated, with only one or two techies on hand at any given time. Good luck finding them. Imagine trying to locate two dudes in an otherwise empty O'Hare International Airport. If you want to find them odds are these guys are doing their best to stay out of view. They signed on to this job so they could play videogames all day, not to actually help people. And all the robots running the place won't help you find them. The techies have programmed them to never help travellers locate human assistance.

Since there's no local government, I decided that the starport is maintained by some interstellar power. I went with the Scout Service, which in my Traveller universe is a fully independent organization. The Scouts set up Razlfraz Starport as a waystation to facilitate Jump-1 trade from outside the subsector through to nearby worlds, particularly the high tech world Laylah. None of the local powers want to cheese off the Scouts, so they leave worlds like Razlfrax alone. That makes Razlfrax an important world for folks fleeing persecution.

A lot of refugees go through the autostarport. But not everyone who gets onto the planet is able to get off of it. Aside from the two techies, the other couple hundred permanent residents of Razlfrax are all "airport refugees" caught between flights, kinda like that guy who lived at Charles De Gaulle Airport for 16 years. Some of them just need to find working passage or a soft-touch captain who will take them on for less than a full ticket price. Other folks have nowhere else to go because none of the local worlds will take them. Better to stay on Razlfrax where you're safe from your enemies. The robots are programmed to feed anyone "waiting for a ship" in the main terminal area. The next starport over probably won't be so cushy.

So when the PCs visit Razlfrax, what will happen to them? If they own their ship or are suspected of such, they will likely be mobbed by petitioners looking to negotiate for a discount ticket. If the PCs arrive in a high jump vessel, the folks with lots of money but no local prospects will pay top credit for transport several parsecs away. Or maybe the PCs need to find someone living at the starport, perhaps someone who doesn't want to be found.