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Sie Siete Station, Niecti Orbit, Gliese 14

ExileInParadise

RPG Therapist
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
The captain's voice came over the intercom, "All passengers prepare for docking."
Eagerly peering out of the shuttle viewport, I watched breathless as the distant stars began shifting in response to the docking maneuvers.
Quickly, a limb of Sie Siete, a ring of dust and ice around Nieci, came into view reflecting the cold red light of the distant main star, once known as Gliese 14.
As the shuttle roll continued, the ice-world of Niecti itself slid into view, with the terminator drawing a baleful red sunset curtain across the frozen surface and low cloud decks.
As the roll slowed, Sie Siete station, my destination appeared, growing larger by the second.

Sie Siete station was laid out as a series of gravity rings around a central core axis.
From this perspective, I could make out the landing bay at the tip of the axis with fuel tanks surrounding the axial core below the landing bay.
The first of 5 gravity rings came next, the outer hull studded with hatches which must be the hangar bays for the Alliance Navy fighters.
Further down the axis, the giant main habitat itself, a massive gravity ring connected by six large spokes to the core, studded with windows, and extrusions.
Next came a pair of smaller rings above and below a central technical core with smaller craft maneuvering nearby.
Last, a midsize ring with massive exterior doors regularly spaced around could only be the main cargo ring.
Finally, the bottom tip of the axial spindle appeared to be engineering space for additional fuel, maneuvering, and reactors.

With a series of bumps, the shuttle slowly docked to the waiting umbilical lock.
Locking the gloves, then helmet, onto the borrowed vacc suit, I ran through the suit checks for the third time.
Over the helmet comm, I confirmed I was ready for vacuum.
Eventually the overhead lights switched to red, signifying the hatch to the station was ready for opening.
From the faint hiss and shudder, I could tell the main hatch was open without too much fuss, confirmed as the overhead lights flashed green three times.
Then it was my turn to unlatch and disembark...

What would I find on this new outpost in a distant star system far from home?
What was I looking for?

A SETTING FROM SCRATCH
----------------------------------------
Players need a home base.

For science fiction games, this may be a starship, for mobility, a space station, or a colony on a world, among many other possibilities.

For my Salvage Space campaign, acting as an example for fleshing out eXiSTeNCe, my personal RPG rule set, I chose an orbital station over the mainworld of a distant star system about 50 light years / 15 parsecs from Earth.

As a home base, it needs to support the players' core activities like getting rid of treasure, re-equipping, and levelling up.

To evoke a Babylon 5-style feel, it needs to seem like a city in space.

Since my setting does not have "gravity control" it took a bit of doing to find a space station design that would serve all the needs and fit the setting technology level...

You'd be surprised how much science-fiction assumes "gravity plates" (Star Trek, Alien, Star Wars, Traveller) which I didn't want because microgravity and variable gravity and such really help push home the dangerous nearness of space.

In the end, I found two resources that fit the bill:
Future Armada: Argos III, 2007 by Ryan Wolfe / Ki-Ryn Studios
Starship Geomorphs, 2018 by Robert Pearce / Pierce Design Studio

Starship Geomorphs is a MASSIVE collection of interlocking deckplans designed with Traveller/Cepheus Engine 2d6 gaming in mind.
But, it includes an example plan of linking the geomorphs into a ringed structure which could be spun, supporting use in a setting without grav plates.
I have future plans for exactly that in my setting...

But, to start off with, Sie Siete station is built on the Future Armada: Argos III deckplans. which included many locations within the station sketched out with businesses, factions, some NPCs, and backstory.

The habitat ring is built up of 6 "sectors" organized by colors of the spectrum: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet.
Each sector is connected via a spoke with a built-in transit system to the axis, and the sectors are broken into 2 "subsectors" and numbered 1-12 like the hour marks of a clock. Red sector covers 1-2, Orange sector covers 3-4, etc.

Within each of the 12 *subsectors* are 18 modular location maps organized as a 6 x 3 set of tiles - for 216 "location maps" making up the main deckplan.
Each tile itself is a 9 x 7 miniatures-style map for a tabletop - with one or more locations that might be used by players at some point.

I've been working through this supplement, prepping it along the likes of Johnn Four's "Adventure Hacking" resource, with an eye to it being used as the long-term campaign homebase for my games... so I am not sure you can "over-prep" that... but I am trying.

Looking at each map, I am trying to "solo play" the setting by imagining each NPC's daily life in their part of the station.
As a result, I am generating tons of notes into Campaign Logger, many of which I may never use at the table, but which definitely can be mined as needed.

AN EXPERIMENT YOU CAN TRY
---------------------------------------------
When you buy into Dungeons and Dragons, or Pathfinder, you primarily get a "System" - lots of mechanics and crunchy bits to "do stuff" with and lots of monsters to do that stuff to.

What you don't get is a Setting ... or do you?

If you read between the lines of the D20 core books, there are a LOT of implied "setting materials" that can be mined out.

In the D20 Player Handbook is the inevitable section on "Equipment" ... which includes many items a starting player cannot afford... yet.

Looking at each of the items listed, as yourself these three questions:
1. Who makes that thing?
2. What do they need to make that thing?
3. Where would they get that?

With that you can start to see the interlocking setting and economy implied by the system.
Someone harvests the food, and crafts it into items.
Someone raises the livestock.
Someone weaves the fabric, spins the thread, and makes clothes from it.
Someone makes the lamps and oil to go in them.
Someone mines the ore, refines it, and crafts things from it - not just weapons and armor.

With all of that in mind, imagine the starting town can exist which makes and supplies all of that equipment for the starting adventurers.
Put 1-3 NPCs and locations to each item - maybe different quality of craftmanship distinguish them?

Now, when your players want to "buy stuff" you have ready made encounters with NPCs for them to interact with rather than ordering from a catalogue.
You also have a fantasy home base that needs nothing but the player handbook.

The book "Grain Into Gold" is great for going much deeper and crazier into this idea - starting with the entire world of what is required for your character to trade a gold piece for a loaf of bread.
Medieval demographics made Easy by S. John Ross is good to flesh this out with as well.

I did this exerpiment once in the SecondLife virtual world and it was eye-opening to build a town around the concept of just making and supplying the stuff in the stock equipment list.

I am doing that approach again with this Sie Siete station for my science-fiction game ... and finding its a much bigger fish to haul in.

But, the fun is in the trying ...
 
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knoppi

Active member
Gold WoA
Wizard of Story
Borderland Explorer
That's funny. I chose the same kind of homebase for my Stars without numbers campaign, actually even the same deckplans -- the Argo III. In my case it's a flying research station looking for lost systems. Or at least, that's what the players are thinking they are doing.

I never went as much into detail as you do with your NPCs, but I also have quite a large ensemble of NPCs representing all the different task that are required for a flying town. And in between sessions I try to figure out what these NPCs are doing. Therefor I use Obsidian which we were already talking about in several other threads. It has this graph view to visualize links between documents, so I instantly see the connection between PCs and NPCs. Then my players sometimes see their friends and colleagues during their missions, which comes quite naturally. There is, for instance, Mick, Nick's best friends, who always runs into trouble. Or the engineer Kaylie who had some spare time and tried to figure something the players told her. Next time they meet her (she's quite funny, so that happens regularly) she tells them.

Are you planning to take notes for your solo play or is this rather a tool to prepare improvisation and to get a better feeling?
 

ExileInParadise

RPG Therapist
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
That's funny. I chose the same kind of homebase for my Stars without numbers campaign, actually even the same deckplans -- the Argo III. In my case it's a flying research station looking for lost systems. Or at least, that's what the players are thinking they are doing.
It's a well done and deeply thought-into supplement that's been lurking in my GM toolbox for a while.
To me, it captured the Babylon-5 style "essence" without being obviously derivative or easily identifiable as such.
And its easy to reskin as you noticed.
But the main draw for me is the subsector maps stitched together at minis-scale make great VTT fodder and I am having to constant regear my thinking to VTT ... which to me seems like 10-100X the prep for the same amount of game.

I never went as much into detail as you do with your NPCs, but I also have quite a large ensemble of NPCs representing all the different task that are required for a flying town. And in between sessions I try to figure out what these NPCs are doing. Therefor I use Obsidian which we were already talking about in several other threads. It has this graph view to visualize links between documents, so I instantly see the connection between PCs and NPCs. Then my players sometimes see their friends and colleagues during their missions, which comes quite naturally. There is, for instance, Mick, Nick's best friends, who always runs into trouble. Or the engineer Kaylie who had some spare time and tried to figure something the players told her. Next time they meet her (she's quite funny, so that happens regularly) she tells them.
I am not pre-detailing every NPC to that degree.
I bucket NPCs into 3 starting categories:
Grunts/Mooks - they get the minimum detail - a 3 line NPC and maybe a stat block.
Soldiers / Specialists - they get medium detail - the 3-line NPC, a stat block and a core skill / role within the encounters.
Full NPCs - these are the recurring cast that get backstories and details over time and become mostly immune to random NPC death.

In SecondLife I came up with a fun NPC model for my starting town folk:
Imagine a day in their life.
They sleep, they wake up, they get ready, they do some sort of work during the day, lunch, more work, dinner, some evening activity, get ready for bed and sleep.
In SecondLife I drove this with a clock and list of locations for the NPC to do each standard activity at.
NPC would move to that location, move to that facing, switch outfits if needed, and start an "idle loop" of the activity there.
It really brought the town to life to have NPCs moving from place to place using waypoints in the streets and buildings.

Are you planning to take notes for your solo play or is this rather a tool to prepare improvisation and to get a better feeling?
For tabletop - it's way easier than in Secondife.
Certain times of the day the streets will be busier just like rush hours otherwise NPCs are "home" or "at work"
The subsector in Argos will give me a good clue as to "who is on the street"

Looking through Argos III - I am figuring out "work places" with a capacity and "residences" with a capacity.
As I assign NPCs to work and home places, that will "fill out" the "who is on the street" tables.
Then I can just bucket the NPCs to those and be ready for when I need to prep specific people/places based on the PC wandering.

This is in prep for a group to run through a full campaign playtest my personal RPG ruleset I've been working on for years now.

I am prepping a bit more than most should because I want to have the "story" done and dusted come the table session, so I can focus on system improvements.

I am even thinking of some simple Python scripts to combine "who" with "where" and "time of day" to build those tables as needed.
 
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