Sunday, April 17, 2011

J is for Jump Pack

J is for Jump Pack!

Jump Packs are favorite of mine. I have loved them since the first days of seeing them used on Lost in Space! On TV. So what about them?

Well if you want to use them, what are they? Have they developed enough into a military tool. It it still a full rig and platform, or are you full rocketeer/iron man mode. Militarized and a staple of the civilian market.

My preference is the latter. I have always seen full peer armored soldiers in jump packs zooming over tortured landscapes to capture the objective ahead of the ground pounders.

So this fits a space opera game. Now simply decide on size and weight of the system. Does it take a fully armored and etched out suit to use one? Can it just be strapped to you back or your boots? How is it controlled? How would an adventurer use it, and of course fire a weapon from it?

The jet pack could add some nice technology quests, escort missions or full out combat missions with jet packs as a main player in the adventure. So use them. You characters will love soaring through the air.

I is for Interpreter!

I is for Interpreter!

It's a universally accepted fixture of sci fi, the ability to communicate fluently with alien, foreign and even terrestrial races and nations with losing nothing in the translation. Think about how big a thing this is. That every nation, race and life form that has a formal language can communicate with each other.Ethnologue list approximately 6800 languages right now on earth. It anticipates in the next century, approximately 3000 languages will go extinct. So even at about 4000 languages, can you imagine the kind of catlogueing, diagramming and computing that would need to be made to actully create an artificial interpreter.

now extrapolate that to a sci fi universe where instant and perfect communications occurs across the universe. We're not talking about on a planetary level where the dialects or or even sounds may be able to be made by the same life form. We're talking across systems and races and species. It's the stuff of space opera that only hard science could solve.

So this gives rise to a few options: a common trade language is adopted to be spoken by the major nations and races; a digital translator is wired into us, our clothes our watches, something, to have a mechanical way to translate instantaneously; a communication gap exists, how do get over it.

All three allow you a way to shape your world and communication in it. Think about how many wars would be started about bad communication. Or no communication. Or the differences between species trying to communicate(lips, mouths, teeth, face and eyes).

The typical space opera option is the common language. Easy, simple, no heavy lifting with hard science necessary. Star Trek and Star Wars mode.

Translating gear opens up more options for conflict, missed communication, and faulty tech. All creating plot seeds and a chance for adventure.

And finally, a communication gap exists. Alien races struggle to communicate without causing an incident. You want to land on that undocumented planet and start rousting the locals and you have no way of communicating? Better bring a lot of body bags for the away team.

You may not think about it, in your next space opera campaign or game, think about how language, communication, and the interpretation of language can create drama, tension and interest for the adventurers

Monday, April 11, 2011

H is for Halcyon Drive

H is for Halcyon Drive!

The Halcyon drive was the key that unlocked the Stars to Humanity. Based upon the research of Dr. Rudolfo Samuelsen, the Halcyon Drive was developed by the Tanhausser Corporation after a research accident caused Dr. Samuelsen, his entire research staff, and his laboratory to vaporize, without an explosion. Dr Samuelsen's research was not lost however, and was quickly bought up by the Tanhausser Corporation, which had enormous resources devoted to propulsion, communications, and the emerging study of psionics and psionic individuals. Tanhausser's research on Ozminium samples retreived from a near body asteroid completed the final bits of the puzzle, providing the enormous energy required to power the drive system.

The Halcyon Drive was born on the backs of Dr. Samuelsen's ground breaking work and is standard in all current FTL capable ships.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Gyrojet!

To me, Gyrojet pistols and rifles are as much a part of sci-fi rpg's as Lasers and FTL travel. A gyro jet pistol/rifle is basically a personal hand held rapid firing rocket launcher. It fires large caliber shells, propelled by an internal rocket motor that exhausts through 4ports on the bottom of the shell. The ports exhaust the thrust putting a gyroscopic spin on the shell, stabilizing it for flight. If a micro processor is in the shell, the shell could be guided as well.

Gyrojet weapons were actually created in the 1960's. A picture of the real pistol is above. The classic Star Frontiers Gyrojet pistol is shown above as well.

Because of the enlarged shell size, many different warheads could be put in a Gyrojet shell. Use the following chart for random determination of round type:

01-35 Dumb-regular explosive
36-40 Guided-regular explosive
41-50 Dumb -armor piercing
51-53Guided-armor piercing
54-56 Dumb-incendiary
57-59 Guided-incendiary
60-62 Dumb-tracker
63-65 Guided-tracker
66-68 Guided-Personal EMP
69-71 Dumb-tranquilizer
72-74 Guided-tranquilizer
75-77 Dumb-poison
78-80 Guided-poison
81-85 Dumb-overload
86-90 Guided-overload
91-95 Dumb-super explosive
96-99 Guided-super explosive
100 Guided-mini-nuke

Dumb-no internal guidance. Aimed rounds.
Guided/Smart-internal guidance. Fire and forget.
Explosive-standard explosive round
Armor Piercing-standard AP round
Incendiary-tracer/fire starter rounds. Phosphorus.
Tracker-gps tracking round. No damage.
Personal EMP-knock out round for electronics on target.
Tranquilizer-knock out drug round
Poison-sick/kill round from poison.
Overload-electrical stun round
Super explosive-super dense and powerful explosive round, usually for busting doors,buildings
Mini-nuke-super rare mini nuclear explosive round

So, when you need a special round or just some rare ammo to buy at the gun shop, think of adding some variety to your Gyrojet ammo.

F is for Fail!

Well I failed the challenge. I was travelling all around Colorado yesterday and just couldn't get a post. And Not sure that I will have time for a G post today. I will make them up over the weekend, but this is tough with all that's going on right now. But never fear. I will soldier on.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Elevator to the Stars

E is for Elevator to the Stars!

What is the Elevator to the Stars? It's also known as a space elevator. It represents
one of the most economical ways to heavy lift materials into orbit for orbital shipyards, defense and research stations, and to reprovision space ships with supplies and personnel.

Basically, a space elevator is a platform/station/dock anchored to a planet, tethered in a gravitationally, or rotationally neutral spot above the planet by a cable, typically a carbon nanotube cable. Freight, materiel, and personnel is ferried up to the station in orbit by platforms, containers or passenger cars along the cable on one side, as platforms are lowered on the other side to the planet surface. Once the initial cost of the system is spent, the operational cost is much lower than the cost of fuel and landing facilities for conventional heavy lifting operations from the planet surface to orbit. However on a technologically advanced (stellar) planet, the elevators would only be used for hauling bulk material to and from space, and the transport of bulk passengers(refugees, off world colonists, relocation programs, penal programs, and occasionally, militia or bulk recruitment forces.

Passenger costs are considered reasonable compared to Interface Craft and Shuttles. Freight costs are reasonable as well, considering no other real economic way to lift substantial weights of bulk goods from and to a planet's surface. Bulk materials manufactured in space are transported mainly in this way, as are unprocessed or processed ores farmed from asteroids, that are needed on a planet's surface.

Elevators can and have been targets of espionage, terrorism, and outright war acts. The carbon nano tube construction has proved amazingly resilient, and it takes a very determined effort to damage just one strand of tube and as each cable is a bundle of hundreds of tubes, wound with other cables.

Like all transportation, economics come with a trade off. Time. The speed of the elevator varies with payload, but interface craft and shuttles beat the time it takes to get to or from the surface by up to 10 times, as the elevator must allow for long docking, loading, safety checks, run ups, switch overs, acceleration and deceleration of the platforms.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Dungeon Crawl...In Space!

D is for Dungeon Crawl…In Space      

A staple for the Fantasy RPG genre, the Dungeon Crawl is a fall back position for the harried DM, with little time to prepare. Get a few Geomorphs (I would recommend Dyson’s highly), a few random charts (Kelri’s are tough to beat), and make a couple of Wandering Monster Charts and you are done.

So where can the SF GM go for his fall back. Well if you have a sandbox style game, then learn from your fantasy brethren, use the Dungeon Crawl model for quick successful, and fun adventures.

In a sci-fi setting, a dungeon could be even more things than it could be in a fantasy setting. A dungeon is really just a closed environment, on a human scale (meaning it can be bitten off in chewable chunks), so that the DM can limit the amount of inputs affecting change in the environment. So in the sci-fi genre this could be (I feel a table coming on):

Random Crawl Location (roll 1d100)
01-05 Abandoned Floating Hulk in Space
06-10 Crashed Ship on a Planet
11-15 Creature Lair
16-20 Sewer System
21-25 Secret Remote Laboratory
26-30 Ruins of an Ancient Civilization
31-35 Alien Ship or Base
36-40 Military Complex or Outpost
41-50 Space Station
51-55 Asteroid Mines
56-60 Manufacturing Complex
61-65 Arena Complex
66-70 Office/Government Building (or any other building type)
71-75 Alien Tunnel Complex
76-80 Natural Cave Systems
81-85 Any Space Ship
86-90 Junkyard or Scrap Yard
91-95 Space Docks
96-100 Pick any one

I would also utilize the excellent 5 Room Dungeon model that John Four at Roleplaying Tips developed for a quick way to organize a crawl.

Basically, a 5 Room Dungeon has 5 rooms, literally or figuratively, to set up discovery, challenge, conflict, and resolution. The format is:

Room 1: Entrance and Guardian Feature
Room 2: Puzzle or Role Playing Challenge
Room 3: Trick or Setback
Room 4: Climax, Big Battle, or Major Conflict
Room 5: Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist

Used Effectively, this method can have you rolling on an Crawl in no time flat. And remember, the five rooms can also represent 5 areas. It does not need to be five rooms literally.

For example:
Pirate Lair of the Madman MacCarrin(Pirate Base)
Room 1: Entrance and Guardian Feature – How do you get into the base? Through the Dock or Hanger? How about from over the ridge? Is the guardian an assault robot or gun turret, or maybe a security system? This could be a whole series of rooms, with some minor encounters with guards, robots, etc.

Room 2: Puzzle or Role Playing Challenge – How do you enter the enter sanctum of the Madman? What are the Clues? The sound of running water for the sewer system, the maintenance tunnel entrance that needs to be hacked? Maybe it’s a negotiation, bluff or intimidation you need to do with a toady or a protocol droid?

Room 3:Trick or Setback – Traps, wrong way or dead ends, a bad map, or bad information, poisoned, drugged or kidnapped team members all can lead to a problem that slows progress down. Add some drama. Maybe the Madman’s knows you are there. Maybe he wants you to be there so he can capture you and sell you to slavers, so the lower level you conveniently found a way in with leads to a maze of corridors, patrolled by security bots set on full stun, or ravenous guard dogs.

Room 4: Climax, Big Battle, or Major Conflict - You got into the base, you navigated your way through the sewer system, you got out of the underbasement maze, and now you are in the private suite of the Madman Himself. You know of his atrocities. You have heard of his wealth, and he has captured one of your team members. You want both. Time for the fight with his personal guard and then him.

Room 5: Reward, Revelation, and Plot Twist – You have dispatched the Madman and captured his personal guard, they will fetch a nice bounty. You found his personal stash of wealth, but you have found something more. A scan of his records indicate the payoff lists for the captains of several corporate operators, and some regional governments as well. And he was sending payments to OXXON Corporation for all sales of slaves and stolen goods? Seems like some blackmail may be in order for the crew, or revelation to the NewsVid folks. And you had your eye on that new Sorillium Industries Corvette docked in the hanger on the way in. It would look good in your colors.  Possibilities….. 

So remember, a good fantasy dungeon crawl is always fun, exciting, and packed with adventure and reward. There is no reason the same model can’t be used for a good Crawl in a Sci Fi setting. Just take it out of the Dungeon and into the universe!  

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Character Background Generator

C is for Character Background Generator!

I have always tended to enjoy the more random nature of some RPGs that generated a character completely randomly. To me it was the most exciting way to generate a character. No archetypes, no point pools, no character theme. This was especially true in classics like Villains &Vigilantes, but also in Traveller (a real revelation) and in the new Warhammer 40k RPG as well. So to go along with my posts on cobbling ideas together for a sic fi campaign, I thought I would write a completely random character background generator to put some umpff in each characters story. It doesn't take the burden off the player and the GM from working together on the players background, but it does fill in some high level background of where the character came from, and its a jumping off point for the player to fill in some of the grey areas of the distant past of a character. And it will help the younger players grasp on to the fact that there is a background to every character that lead them to the point of their first adventures.

Birthplace (roll d100)
01-75 Planetary
76-98 Space
99-100 Other


World Type (d100 roll)
01-60 Terran(earth like)
61-65 Aquan (water planet, less than 2% land)
66-70 Semi Arid (less than 50% surface water)
71-75 Arid ( less than 25% surface water)
76-81 Frozen (water at surface is frozen)
82-85 Tropical/Jungle (high water,humidity, temp, and fertility, lots of jungle/forest vegetation)
86-90 Islands/archipelagos (>75% water, no continental sized land masses, many islands)
90-91 Techno/Archology (extreme population has covered over 50% of land surface in heavily built up cities/archologies, nature is an oddity)
92-96 Moon or Atmosphereless (only fully enclosed habitation is possible)
97-100 Heavy Gravity (mineral rich, higher temperature, higher water content in atmosphere)

Civilization Level/Type( d100 roll)
01-05 Nomadic hunter/gatherer (pre history, pre permanent dwellings, pre metal)
06-10 Tribal (community groups, gathered for mutual reasons, riding animals, rudimentary          farming, both seasonal and permanent dwellings)
11-20 Ancient/Medieval (villages, towns, cities, metal working, stone etc buildings, armies, government, religion)
21-35 Low Tech (industrialized, dense population centers, transportation systems, high quality   agriculture, high output resource gathering)
36-50 Mid Tech (tech level for basic computers, micro technology, high end ballistic weapons, instant cellular communications, medical advancement)
51-70 High Tech (tech level for solar travel, instant planetary communications, fire and forget weapons, robotics, nano technology, biotechnology, computer environment emersion, energy weapons, artificial intelligence)
71-100 Stellar Tech (tech level for interstellar travel and colonization)

Region Type (roll 1d100)
01-40 Temperate
41-50 Tropical
51-60 Coastal
61-65 Mountains
66-70 Desert
71-80 Grasslands
81-85 Forest
86-95 Jungle
96-100 Snow/Ice

Community Type (roll 1d100)
01-40 Traditional Mixed Community
41-50 Farming Community
51-60 Mining Community
61-65 Technology Center
66-70 Manufacturing Center
71-75 Higher Education Center
76-85 Governmental Center
86-90 Transportation Center
91-100 Military Center

Community Size(roll d100)
01-20 Nomad/Solitary
21-30 Village
31-50 Town
51-80 City

Governmental system (roll 1d100)
01-35 Democratic (citizens have rights and vote for their leadership and laws)
36-50 Oligarchy (religious institution(s) are the outright rulers and law makers)
51-60 Republic (elected senate representatives make law and rule for their people)
61-70 Dictatorship (supreme control rests in hands of singular ruler, board, etc)
71-80 Feudal (Lords, barons, princes, family lineage rules, most are not a part of the ruling class)
81-90 Collective (everybody equal, everyone works for state, state owns everything for people)
91-100 Corporate (Corporations rule, employer is the government, company policy is law)


Location Type (roll 1d100 for birth location, roll 2nd 1d100 for where you were raised)
01-50 Spaceship
51-60 Space Station
61-75 Asteroid Farming Base
76-90 Manufacturing Base
91-100 Military Outpost

Spaceship Type (roll 1d100) (roll 2nd and 3rd 1d100 for mother and father position on ship)
01-05 Luxury Liner (cruise ship for vacations or travelling in luxury, could be crew (01-75) or passenger (76-100))
06-10 Slave Ship (slave haulers to sell people to far off worlds, crew (01-10) or slave (11-100))
11-15 Penal Ship (prison ships idling around galaxy, no destination, crew(01-10) administration (11-20) or prisoners (21-100))
16-35 Research/Explorer (science and exploration ships, highly educated,well rounded crew, crew (01-25), admin(26-35) scientists(36-85), marines/security/away teams(86-100)
36-45 Military Ship (Frigate(01-10), Destroyer(11-20), Cruiser (21-30), Dreadnaught (31-35), Battleship (36-40), Carrier (41-50), Flagship (51-55), Support Ship (56-100))
45-55 Freighter (Bulk Freighter (01-25), Hospital Ship(26-35), Trader (36-75), Passenger Hauler(76-100))
56-75 Colony Ship (crew (01-10), admin(11-20) scientists(21-35), marines/security/away teams(36-50), engineers and constructors (51-75), other colonists(76-100)
76-92 Corporate Ship (crew (1-10), admin (11-30), security personnel (31-60), specialized personnel (61-100))
93-97 Refugee Fleet (crew (1-10), specialists (11-15), refugees (16-100))
98-100 Pirate/Raider Ship (crew (1-35), raiders/assault teams (36-60), specialists (61-80), labor crews (81-100))

Space Station (roll 1d100) (roll 2nd 1d100 for type, if needed)
01-35 Trading Hub (crossroads for travel, trading, etc.)
36-60 Research Station (Private stations paid for by national (01-35), corporate (36-75), or military interests (76-100))
61-75 Customs/Diplomatic Station (control points for legal immigration, goods traffic, diplomatic relations, etc.)
76-80 Military Station (forward operations station (01-10), system station (11-35), major operations station (36-60), support station (61-97), top secret station(98-100))
81-90 Mining Station (processing station (01-35), mining operations station (36-60), transportation/hauling hub (61-75), material storage station (76-90), entertainment station (91-100)
91-100 Agricultural Station

Asteroid Farming Base (roll 1d100)(see previous post A is for Asteroid Farm)
01-30 Family Farm
31-75 Corporate Farm
75-90 National Farm
91-100 Bandit Lord/Pirate Farm

Manufacturing Base (roll 1d100)
01-25 Processing Base
26-40 Shipyard
41-60 Storage/Hauling/Transportation Hub
61-70 Arms Manufacturing Hub
71-80 High Tech Manufacturing Hub
81-95 Corporate R&D base
96-100 Secret R&D base

Military Outpost (roll 1d100)
01-20 Fueling/Armament Base
21-40 Training Base
41-45 Repair Depot
46-60 Minor Outpost
61-75 Major Outpost
76-95 HQ Base
96-100 Specialty Service Branch Base

01-25 Unknown – you just don’t know anything
26-30 Alien and Human mixed race
31-35 Found floating in a capsule in space
36-40 Found on an abandoned/destroyed ship
41-45 Found on an abandoned /destroyed outpost
46-50 Raised feral with animals
51-55 You have no knowledge of your birth except for a series of strange tattoos
56-60 Vat grown by a National Power
61-65 Lab created by a Corporate Power
66-70 You may be a synthetic organism
71-75 You have amnesia and a sack full of random objects for clues of your past
76-80 You are the only surviving member of your race
81-85 You are the surviving member of a failed colonization
86-90 Pick any Planetary Background
91-95 Pick any Space Background
96-100 Pick Any Background

Please excuse the formating

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for BAR!

B is for Bar!

Everyone needs to get some R&R when getting done with that difficult run/mission/assignment/orders and needs to blow off some steam. Or a place to blow that card full of credits you just got. Or needs to get some intel on that local hightech gunner. Just head to your local bar. So here's a chart to help the DM let you know what kind of joint is available outside of that scrap yard you just sold that boosted trawler to.

What Kind of Joint Is It? (D100 roll)

01-17 Dive
18-25 Local Joint
26-30 Dance Club
31-45 Ethnic Bar
46-50 Racial Bar
51-60 Street Joint
61-65 Supper Club
66-68 Sex Club
69-72 Holoclub
73-82 Cantina
83-92. Nightclub
92-95. Luxury Club
96-97 Gangster/Organized Crime Bar
98-99 Fight Club/Gladiator Club/Animal Fights
100 Mega Club

Dive – A Dive is a low rent, lower class, dangerous place. Usually found in the back alleys, under basements, lower levels and in the seedier parts of town. Most dives are under 100sf big (avg 15'x 50'), a single owner/bartender, no waitresses, a long bar the whole length of the building with 3-4 small tables, and rudimentary menu of light (crappy) food and snacks. Dives are intimate and are good places to meet contacts, plan jobs, and gather local info. Dives also tend to be filled with dangerous drunks, drug addicts, and end of the roaders. Almost anything is available here for a price. But the quality and reliability leaves a little to be desired.

Local Joint – Local Joints are typical bars catering to the neighborhood where it is. Filled with patrons on most nights from the neighborhood, local joints are good places to gather info on local goings on and people. Ranging in size from about 600 sf to 3000sf, local joints usually have ample room to sit, booths, a long bar, a bartender, and a couple of overworked waitresses. They also serve local drink favorites and food.

Dance Club (sorry gang its late. I will finish tomorrow)
Ethnic Bar
Racial Bar
Street Joint
Supper Club
Sex Club
Luxury Club
Gangster/Organized Crime Bar
Fight Club
Mega Club

Friday, April 1, 2011

A is For Asteroid Farmers!

A is for Asteroid Farmers

Asteroid Farmers live a secluded existence, farming the rocks, minerals and precious metals out of asteroids and dead comets across the galaxy. Sometimes families will have been asteroid farming for centuries, others are corporate farmers, working the asteroid fields for their employers, and trying to eek out whatever else they can from their life in the far reaches of the solar systems.

Asteroids – Asteroid farming became important when planetary resources of minerals and precious metals became depleted and no terrestrial sources could be easily obtained.

During the formation and subsequent cooling of a planet, the internal gravitational would pull heavy and precious metals into the interior of the planet, thus locking those resources deep into the planet. As the crust solidified, and when and if the planet was subjected to bombardment from planetoids, meteors, asteroids and comets, the mineral and precious metal components of those bodies would embed their contents in the crust of the planet. These resources were the typically available minerals and metals that could be easily extracted for use. Once those resources were used up, the cost of burrowing deep into a planet to extract resources would not be cost effective. Alternatives were sought. It was quickly realized that the resources locked into asteroid bodies could be many times over the available resources of entire planets. The challenge was how to get the material from the field to use.

Enter the
Inter-System Drive
. The Inter-System Drive allowed the rapid transit, with  either freighters filled with raw or refined material, or in some cases, embedded directly into an asteroid, of asteroid material to orbital or terrestrial manufacturing facilities, storage yards or processing plants within an asteroid rich system. Minerals mined include gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium.

Asteroid mining was turned into a race when Ozminium was found during a routine extraction operation. Ozminium, is the key element to FTL travel, and is the most precious of all elements in the known galaxy. A family operation that finds 10 kg of Ozminium will be wealthy beyond even their wildest dreams.

Operations – Asteroid mining operations are either Family or Individual Farming operations, Corporate Operations, or National operations.

Family or Individual Operations are typically stationed out in the asteroid fields themselves, with home bases on repurposed freighters, cruisers, mothballed military, or luxury liner ships, or even on purpose built platforms to house the crew, administration, workshops, storage, materials, and fueling operations. Some are also based on mined out husks of asteroids. These home bases bristle with domes, spires, defense turrets and buildings. Virtual fortresses to guard the buried treasure that is mined out of the fields.

Most family operations are small ventures, eeking out a living on the frontier, with all members of the family pitching in on all aspects of the operation. Maintenance, equipment failures, protection of resources, shipping, and survival are real challenges to surviving as a family operation. Some family operations have grown quite large and prosperous through cooperative agreements with other small operations. Some large family operations have turned into the most successful Corporate Operations. Verskool  Enterprises is a good example of a successful family operation that went corporate.

Some Individual operations have become famous or infamous for their more piratical nature, and some fields have become ripe for hasty set ups of bandit kingdoms and pirate lords in abandoned corporate asteroid operations bases.

Corporate Operations are governed by one thing – profit. Corporate farmers move in, extract, process, haul, and move on. Most operations are based out of purpose built bases and ships, especially after the lesson learned in the so called ‘Blackbeard Skirmishes’. Most corporate operations are run by a board of directors on-site who direct the day to day operations of the venture. Additionally, there is an overall Manager of Operations who is the corporate authority in all issues, and who has the final say as they see fit on operational issues. The Sendai Conglomerate, CGF Exploration, and OXXON are all examples of corporate operations that may be encountered.

National Operations may also be encountered in the fields. National operations tend to be more like forced labor or penal operations. National operations are notoriously brutal, under supplied, and one step from rebellion at any time. And in fact on several occasions, full scale rebellion has occurred and led to the loss of thousands of people and billions of credits in loss of equipment and material. Most National operations have ceased, unable to successfully compete with the family or corporate operations.

Most farmers work in isolation when in the fields. They will work from a type of universal/mining/extracting/blasting/sampling vehicle fitted with plasma cutting/laser cutting tools, drills, graspers, and explosives. The operators will, once they have created enough loose material will call in remote robotic diggers and haulers. Once a fissure has been opened up, remote controlled extractors are set up on the surface of the asteroid to begin the extraction in earnest. These extractors burrow deep worm-like holes in throughout the asteroid, testing as they go, as they deplete the asteroid of its precious cargo. Once completed, a new asteroid is targeted, and the process starts again.

Some highly valuable (based on testing) or large asteroids are fitted with their own Inter-System Drive, cockpit and quarters, and are flown to a processing station or orbiting manufatcturing plant somewhere else in the system. the drives, cockpit and quarters assemblies are then removed, shipped and refitted to another asteroid in the system.

Daily Life – Daily life on the fields can be difficult. Long hours are spent every cycle mining, processing, loading, hauling and storing materials. Most work cycles are 12 hours long. And a typical week of cycles is 10 days long before a 2 cycle break. Most workers are trained on multiple operations so they may be rotated to reduce the fatigue and dementia associated with long farming operations.

Off time during a cycle is spent sleeping, exercising, eating and whatever else can be found to do. Some operations are known for their offwork entertainment, and in fact, some farming operations are followed by a train of pleasure ships, gambling and entertainment ships and the like to meet the needs of the farmers. Drugs, illegal implants, and other illicit things are rampant through some seedier operations, as the Manager of Operations knows a happy farmer is a busy farmer.

Family operations tend to be more sedate, as they focus on survival and how they will keep their equipment operating to hit the next score.

Challenges – Challenges for the different operations vary. Family operations are challenged with struggles in keeping operating, delivering material and finding someone to buy their material, and with defense of their bases and their claims. Many a skirmish or full out war has erupted between family, corporate, or national operations based on claim rights, claim jumping and assassination for the rights to farm individual asteroids or whole fields. Many family operations wind up on the short end of the stick in these skirmishes, because of their smaller size and limited resources. Mercenaries, protection fleets, even navies have interjected in some of these occurances to defend the rights (just or not) of their family, employers or nation.

Equipment failure, fatigue, supplies, health, and psychology, are but a few of the significant challenges that face every farming operation. Equipment failure, metal fatigue, electronic or propulsion issues all can bring an operation to its knees. The most important facility in any operation, next to the bar, is the maintenance shed and workshops. Without these mechanics and engineers constantly ensuring that the equipment is running, the operation will make no money.

Worker fatigue, health and psychological issues run rampant through a mining operation. It’s a dirty, grimy, hard life for anyone. Most family operations deal with this issue better than any other. Their life is in the fields, so they aren’t concerned with returning home or to a space port to spend their R&R time. Corporate operations rely heavily on providing entertainment to their farmers during their down time, to curb the long term effects of isolation, fatigue, and deteriorating health. Most corporate farmers only farm for a few years, before they give it up for an easier lifestyle.  

Some Real Facts:
(At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1 mile (1.6 km) contains more than $20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.[1]gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium… In 2004, the world production of iron ore exceeded a billion metric tons.[4] In comparison, a comparatively small M-type asteroid with a mean diameter of 1 km could contain more than two billion metric tons of iron-nickel ore,[5] or two to three times the annual production for 2004.

April A to Z

Welcome to the A to Z Blog a day first day for April, 2011. I am going to focus my efforts on Roll 2 Hit on creating background, places and random tables for an upcoming Sci Fi campaign I want to start with our group. Our group consists of me, and my best friend (42 and 41) our kids (12,11,10,9) and some of the guys from our normal wargamming group (young and grognard alike). We like sandboxes, and most of our games are that way. Wind them and let them go! No railroading here. So what better sandbox than the stars?

I’ll post the first entry up next….

A is for.....?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wow its been a long time.

Way too long.

I have been doing things. Playing RPG's , Wargamming, painting, living and working. Life is a busy thing. Embrace it.

So I have decided that I will participate in the A to Z Blog a Day challenge for April, on both this blog and my wargamming blog at

Should be fun. Blog a day starting April 1st with A, each day is a different letter. No posts on sunday. At the end you will have 26 posts of some substance.

So I intend to focus this blog on woring through a new Sci Fi campaign, and a Mutant Future campaign. I am going to limit myself to those two subjects. Enjoy.