Friday, July 25, 2014

Everything You Could Want to Go Wrong

A technique for gm'ing presented by the man himself, S.John Ross is to send a group off and make a list of everything that can go wrong on a journey. Of course Marc W. Miller's Classic Traveller is famed for its use of checklists. So let's see what we get mashing the two together.
Complications in red.

TYPICAL ACTIVITIES
I. Arrive in star system.
A rough jump transition damaged machinery or caused illness of an influential passenger.
A. Scan area for potential danger, problems, and other data.
The scanners malfunction. 
A spacewalk is required to fix it. 
Someone is scanning you while you're essentially blind.
You discover potential danger and other problems.
You scan someone who doesn't want to BE scanned.
B. Set course insystem.
Debris or another hazard requires you to divert and lose time.
You don't see the debris in time (see (A).)
C. Possible ship encounter.
Actual ship encounter.
II. Local gas giant.
A. Achieve orbit.
Electromagnetic flux, uncharted bodies or navigation error places your ship in a dangerous orbit
B. Refuel.
Okay refueling entails diving into a gas giant's atmosphere and scooping up hydrogen at ramjet speeds. Do I have to spell it out for you? Cyclone winds, electrical storms, native life evolved to withstand same, updrafts sending allotropic carbon (diamonds!) from the deep core, temperature and pressure extremes if you go too low. Contaminated fuel messes up your processors or engines causing the ship to descend uncontrollably.
C. Set course to major world
or outsystem.
I I I. Local major world.
A. Achieve orbit.
See I A & I B. 
B. Proceed to orbital starport
(unstreamlined ships) or surface starport
(streamlined ships).
Traffic.
Customs.
Safety inspection.
C. Arrival onplanet.
1. Unload high passengers.
You lost someone's luggage/pet/robot/child/robot child.
You drop someone's luggage.
A passenger's check bounced.
2. Unload mail.
Where's the mail?
3. Unload middle passengers.
See III C.
4. Unload cargo.
Cargo lot # 31 is stolen.
Cargo lot #17 is lost.
Cargo lot #22 eats lot #17.
Cargo lot #3 was switched for a load of bricks at previous port of call (always good for a laugh!)
Recipients of lot #3 do not appreciate being shown a load of bricks and a lame story.
Highly illegal cargo lot #61 breaks open on unloading (hey what happened to our load of bricks?)
Load of highly explosive/corrosive/disgusting cargo breaks open.
Load of bricks is dropped on someone's foot.
5. Unload low passengers.
Low passenger switched for load of bricks.
6. Conclude low lottery.
Lottery was rigged.
Load of bricks wins lottery. Ticket holders riot.
D. Refit and maintenance.
1. Refuel from starport.
Fuel spill.
Overcharged for fuel.
Sold tainted fuel.
2. Renew ship life support.
Malfunction. Your life support has to be sent to the shop for repairs.
E. Commodity activity.
1. Sell speculative cargo.
2. Buy speculative cargo.
Bottom falls out of brick market.
Do you really need me to think of what can go wrong on commodity trading?
F. Ship business.
1. Pay berthing costs.
Fund transfer fails.
Crewman running a check to the Port Authority gets hit in the head and robbed (with a brick obviously.)
2. Pay bank payment.
See III F 1.
3. Pay maintenance fund.
See III F 1.
4. Pay crew salaries.
See III F 1.
G. Miscellaneous activity.
1. Patron encounters.
Patron is a liar, thief or cheat.
Patron expects honest work for his salary.
2. Planetary exploration.
You find something interesting or worse yet: an anomaly.
3. Local areas of interest.
Crew members set lose on local establishments with a pocket full of credits.
Crew members run out of credits.
Crew men pursued by creditors.
4. Hire new crew members.
D'uh.
H. Prepare for departure.
Creditors appear as if by fiat!
1. Load cargo.
Cargo lot # 31 is stolen.
Cargo lot #17 is lost.
Cargo lot #22 eats lot #17.
Cargo lot #3 is being switched for a load of bricks!
Highly illegal cargo lot #61 breaks open on unloading (hey what happened to our load of bricks?)
Load of highly explosive/corrosive/disgusting cargo breaks open.
Load of bricks is dropped on senior port official's vehicle .
2. Load low passengers.
Low passenger breaks on freezing.
3. Load middle passengers.
You lost someone's luggage/pet/robot/child/robot child.
You drop someone's luggage.
4. Load high passengers.
See III H 3. Only the passenger wronged is a lawyer.
5. Load mail.
Mail refuses to be loaded. Optionally mail is eaten or nested in by Lot #22.
6. Collect income for all
aspects of current trip.
Good luck.
IV. Departure.
A. Lift-off.
Ship doesn't lift. Discard excess bricks!
B. Achieve orbit.
Discard excess bricks!!
C. Set course outsystem.
Collision with ceramic rectangular prisms imminent!
D. Possible ship encounter.
It's a trap.

E. Jump.
Finally.