So I am brainstorming episode ideas for a game set in the shackleton expanse on the far side of the beta quadrant. I was thinking I would do this as a hex crawl but one where the hexes don’t represent actual space or distance but hooks the PCs might follow as they survey the newly colonized parts of this region of space. They choice the pathfinder mission profile.
Here’s two that I have so far, let me know if they track.
The ship discovers a unique warp signature from what was a pre-warp civilization a hundred years ago. They are sent to investigate. They get immediately attacked by advanced ships. Turns out the planet had been previously invaded by an advanced badguy empire like the Breen*, the Borg*, or the Romulans and hijacked their technology. The PC’s ship is subdued and they have to convince the local government that the federation is just and good and not like the bad guy planet.
How did the post-industrial not yet warp capable species take down an advanced empire? The planet is a Relic World that is infused with nanites from a precursor civilization. As a consequence the culture are exceptionally good computer scientists who can crack into just about any system with their nanites. The viruses shut down the invaders ships and local scientists disassembled them.
*The Borg are suboptimal villains because they are too strong and they look weak getting owned by the Relic world residents. The Breen are suboptimal because they aren’t anywhere near the Shackleton expanse but the might have far out pirate fleets the federation doesn’t know about. Space is 3D after all. The Romulans could work but a planetary invasion doesn’t seem like their style. So I gotta think about this a little bit more.
I need to rewatch the Omega Directive but I had an idea that there’d be the mysterious janitor that shows up on the PC’s ship while investigating rumors of pirate attacks on civilian vessels in the expanse. Their ship doesn’t even have a janitor. The Janitor is a godlike entity that talks evasively and abstractly about cleaning up the galaxies messes whenever a cycle completes. Essentially what he does is whenever galactic civilizations rise to the point of a singularity and destroy themselves, he cleans up some of the subspace anomalies that prevent future civilization from rising, such as the Omega particle used in warfare. He warns the captain that one such galactic extinction level event is about to happen at a wildcat settlement ■■■■■■■ around with Omega particles. He’s old and tired of mopping up the messes and wants a “smoke break” so he is “bending the rules” delaying the end of civilization by warning the captain to prevent the spill from happening in the first place.
The wildcat settlement insists they aren’t working with Omega particles but aren’t telling the truth. They discovered an old cache of relics from a prior galactic civilization that they are using to outfit a pirate fleet with experimental weapons they found. One of these weapons is an omega torpedo some other crazy overpowered weapon like a power generator. The ship will have to find some way to deal with the growing power before interstellar travel is ended in the galaxy.
This is what I have so far. I’d like to have four other hooks. Let me know what ideas you have had for episodes.
A lost colony of augments from the eugenics wars now practice augmentation in a backwater. Upon peaceful contact with the federation, the augments refuse to stop offering augmentations for trade and assert their independence from Federation law as they were independent from all earth governments when they were flung out into space. It gets more complicated when the PCs find out that the wildcat colony practices active eugenics and sterilizes unfit people. A group of stowaway manages to sneak on board the ship and ask for refugee status and plead with the federation to save their family.
Yggdrasil and the coming of the dark ones
The ship comes to a system with an unusual sight, all of the planets are lined up in a perfect line when they get there and newly warp capable species called the Jorians sees their arrival as the fulfillment of a prophesy. The other unusual feature is that the only habitable place is an enormous, planet sized tree projecting its own gravity and environment. The tree is covered in cities. The prophecy says that visitors from the stars will protect them from an extragalactic menace. The prophesy is true and artifacts from a prior world civilization allowed for precognition. The beings that destroyed the prior world civilization are from outside of the galaxy and call themselves the Umbrana.
The Tomb and The Doom
The ship comes across an inhabited system with two notable worlds. One is an uninhabitable tomb world full of well preserved cities and ancient sites. The other has a pre-warp civilization that contacts the PCs about their failing ecosystem. The second planet shows signs of having been terraformed by the inhabitants of the first planet but the systems maintaining the artificial magnetic poles are failing. The system pleads for help in either fixing the magnetics or evacuating the planet. They are willing to trade extensive knowledge of the prior world civilization. The tomb world civilization may be related to one of the prior world civilizations in the other hooks. It is surrounded by a field of force that prevents warp technology from working in its vicinity and requires old fashioned slow ■■■ rocket based ships to get to and from. The Romulans show up an are willing to trade if the PCs aren’t, courting the people and potentially getting dangerous technology.
How about, instead of defeating the invaders, the Relic World folks recovered a derelict, crashed Borg cube? Their advanced computer tech would enable them to crack into the damaged Borg systems and reverse-engineer their technology and then outfit their own ships with it.
Profiteering: the player ship arrives at a world in response to a distress call, only to discover a Feranghi ship in orbit. it is discovered the world is suffering from a plague, and the Feranghi have arrived to sell medicines and, for a higher price, a cure, for the plague. The player ship will have to work to cure the plague, while dealing with a Feranghi whom is upset about losing out on a sale. One can play this straight, or have the medical team discover signs that the plague was INTRODUCED by the Feranghi to make a profit if they want to make him more sinister (perhaps a good modification if your player base see no issue with “for profit medicine” in and of itself)
The PC ship picks up a broadcast from a pre-warp world that’s discovered an extinction-level asteroid is going to hit the planet in a few days/weeks, and there’s nothing they can do except wait to die.
So the adventure starts with a Prime Directive dilemma - follow the rules and watch a billion people die, or intervene to save them.
If they do choose to intervene, then the question becomes, can they do it without revealing their presence to the pre-warp folks? That’s a science/engineering problem, and it can be complicated as needed.
But the big wrinkle comes when a small fleet of Ferengi ships pops out of warp in orbit of the doomed planet, offering to evacuate some of the populace. For a price, naturally. And they’re double-booking seats, of course. What do the players do about this? What do they do if the asteroid can’t be safely diverted, or if it would require the full power of all the Ferengi ships in addition to the PC ship in order to accomplish it?
- Contractual Dispute
The players ship comes across a civilian vessel being fired on by a Ferengi one. The civilian ship asks for assistance from the Ferengi pirates, while the Ferengi state that they are bondsmen sent to retrieve a stolen shipment from the other ship. Of course Ferengi definition of stolen can extend to simply late payers.
Who do the players back and how does the losing side deal with it?
- Not because it is easy, but because it is hard
The players have been sent to extract a research outpost from the dark side of a moon overlooking a non-FTL species which is about to launch a space probe to the moon that will discover the outpost.
Upon arrival they find that one member of the research team has gone AWOL on the planet while monitoring their space programme. They have to infiltrate the launch site to recover her.
Bonus complication: The missing scientist is actually the one behind the space programme and is trying to advance the species to FTL capability so they can join the Federation.
- Borg Horizon
An Oberth-class science vessel is dead in space. Attempts to contact it are ignored and closer inspection shows the external transmitters have all been sabotaged.
Upon investigation the ship has been experimenting with Borg tech and in a breach of containment the main computer has been infected.
The crew sabotaged the transmitters to stop the Borg tech summoning more but some of them have been partially Borgified (is that even a word?) and there is now fighting all across the ship.
This is sort of a way to partially introduce the Borg in a small scale. They are cut off from the main collective but pose a significant threat on the ship itself. The players get to see the horror of fighting them but always have the option of pulling back and blowing the ship up. The question is how many survivors can they save.
Or the shipment was simply bought from a Ferengi who’d had his business license revoked. The buyer didn’t know, of course (how would they?), but does that matter to the Ferengi Commerce Authority? Not at all!
Here’s something I threw together in a couple hours of thinking. The Green hexes are major adventures, the Blue, Yellow, and Red hexes are single encounter adventures where the description is all you need to know. The hexes do not represent any amount of space in particular and given space is 3d, are an abstraction that instead represents a grid of opportunities.