Sunday, November 15, 2015

Solar Queens and Cosmic Pigs in a Poke

Go read Sargasso of Space and come back.

The premise is simple: an independent survey ship grounds at a port the player characters' ship is being serviced at. The survey company is going into receivership and the crew. desperate to raise funds or face seizure of their vessel and unemployment offers the most recent (and partial) surveys at auction for the traders.

1) It's a golden opportunity as it is cash only. Even the subsidized merchants can only bid for their corporations with the funds on hand. As advertised the surveys are partial: only size, atmosphere, hydrosphere and initial comments. What can go wrong?

2) Inhabitants: Information on the locals is sketchy at best. Cut off from mainstream culture for centuries what sort of lunacy have they descended into?

3) Barren: There are no inhabitants according to the initial survey. No really. No one there. It's abandoned. I mean it never was settled.

4) Sentients: You can't go by some blurry orbital pictures. The atmosphere distorts everything. What you are seeing are animals ... around a naturally occurring prairie fire ... that a small herbivore fell into. I mean sentients are an awesome trade opportunity but there are laws against civilians making first contact.

5) Artifacts: Look at the spike in the G-band! There are artifacts to be found here! Or a transmitter ... why would anyone transmit a signal you could mistake for artifacts?

6) Animals!: Explorers will pay a premium price to capture or kill the latest alpha predators. Some sentients are evolved from predators. Can you tell the difference?

7) Minerals: You can take up mining. Or you can sell stakes to prospectors. Claim jumpers are a problem of course and that weird spike in G-band is making communications difficult.

8) Scam: Selling the trade rights to more than one ship's crew is definitely not cricket. But it's done. Surely we can work this out in a civilized manner.

9) The Secret Research Base: Well it was a secret.

10) Salvage: There are ships there. Dozens and dozens of wrecked ships for salvage. Why are there so many wrecked ships?

11) Space Station: There's a space station in orbit not in the initial survey.

12) Trap: How do you set up a number of gullible merchant ships at once for ambushes?