Gamma Complex

In a distant age, at the edge of the galaxy, on a planet named Voek ( UWP: D525A76-6), industrial facilities in the wasteland churn out power generators, spaceship parts, and other machinery for the Grand Imperial Duchy of Abiodun.

Overview – Gamma Complex* is a city-sized science-fiction role-playing setting where a monopolistic corporation, criminal syndicate, royal family, communist dictatorship, or other totalitarian group controls every aspect of life for the residents of the technocratic, massive, hyper-efficient habitable Complex. In the below case it is presented as part of the Skein Reach setting.

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The inhabitants of Marzox 2, a metal-rich jungle world on the Empire’s border with the Skein Reach, are a bipedal reptilian race with great size and strength, but a metabolic reliance on warm temperatures. Their planet was purged of life by an Imperial Bombardment Fleet when the planetary resistance refused to submit to the Imperial Crusade sent to pacify the planet.

Their Strength and Agility attributes are both +1 during character creation, and their Social attributes are -2 due to their status as refugees from a rebellious and heretical planet.

They stand an average of 2 meters tall, though they measure closer to 4 meters in length from snout to tail, and weigh an average of 80 kilograms. They are hermaphroditic when need be, but in their society on Marzox 2 they mainly reproduced sexually within complex cyclic social cultures which took macro-environmental factors into consideration.

Marzoxians are most comfortable in a humid environment of 30 degrees Celsius, but are comfortable (if slightly spastic) up to 45 degrees.

When in environments colder than 20 degrees Celsius without special clothing such as a vacc suit Marzoxians suffer a -1 DM to all rolls.

Below 10 degrees Celsius Marzoxians must make Endurance checks to take any actions, with an additional -2 DM to the Endurance check per 10 degrees colder.

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Space Opera – Season 3 – Deepest Darkness

Having crossed the length and breadth of the Skein Reach

nurtured a nascent Droid Uprising

faced off against, and robbed

the Imperium, and the Ragranok Krew

made enemies innumerable

and killed many

and in the process saved many from death and from fates worse than death

the motley crew of the starship CALAMITY

navigate ever coreward

following the impulses of a strange cyber-brain

and a pieced-together map from a lost star empire

past dead star after dead star

attended by tiny chunks of rock

(each gathering sufficient hydrogen from the bright strands of bright, colorful nebulae to allow refueling)


nestled in the glare of a deadly pulsar

a blank globe

of deepest darkness.


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Warp Gate Rings – TL 18+

At the height of the Nicerian Empire’s power and technological advancement, they were the unquestioned ruling power of the region. A network of warp jump gates spanned the region, and allowed the Empire’s ships reach and speed that none could stand against. Their capital was said to be protected by an invincible battlestation, now jokingly refereed to as “Walhalix” in the regional myths.

When their capital’s sun exploded, so did the suns of all of the Nicerian core worlds with jump rings. The event that triggered the first nova spread like wildfire through the warp tunnels that the rings made, igniting dozens of stars into blazing nova. This multi-star apocalypse scoured the Empire’s core systems of all life, melting most of their planets and sending their remains to scatter into the void of space.

Now, thousands of years later, the remnants of those worlds float, brilliant strands of glowing color against the darkness beyond the galactic rim.

The Nicerians built jump gate rings that could create a jump gate for ships all the way up to 10,000 tons, and at the time of the nova most Imperial traffic was carried by 10,000 ton ship carriers like the space hulk at Skein Reach subsector 6, hex 0201. For military operations, they would load up the ship carriers with monitors, fighter carriers, and troop transports as needed.

The jump gates transported ships both ways, and depending on the ring and the power input can transport ships at the equivalent speed of jump 1 to jump 6.

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Droid Military Ship 0110110100110001

This is the first military ship built by the Droid Uprising. It is entirely of droid design, designation 0110110100110001 (M1).

Armored front and back with fifteen tons of thick crystaliron angled plate, this is the toughest little jump-capable ship that the droids could build from the wreckage of the space hulk Cretaceous.

This ship has no life support capability or accommodations for living crew. Other than the bridge, drone storage, and one ton for cargo, every ton of this ship is designed for fighting. A 4 gravity maneuver drive, a 4 parsec jump drive, and a triple turret make up the majority of this ship’s systems.

Extensive stolen software is installed on this ship, giving it the ability to operate with no crew. In essence, the ship is a spacefaring droid.

0110110100110001  TL Tons Price (MCr.)
Total Cost (MCr) 81.96  12
Hull 2 streamlined 100 2.2
Structure 2
Armour 12 crystaliron  12 15 6.66
Jump Drive B jump 4 15 20
Manoeuvre Drive B thrust 4 3 8
Power Plant B  consumes 2 tons / week of operation 7 16
Bridge standard 10 0.5
Computer model 4 rating 20  12 5
Software intellect, jump control 4, evade 2, fire control 4, autorepair 1, library 15.4
Electronics basic military +0 DM, radar, lidar, jammers 2 1
Weapons triple turret – particle beam, beam laser, pulse laser 1 6.5
Fuel one jump 4 and two weeks of operation 44
Cargo 1 1
x Staterooms none
x Low Berths none
Extras probe drones (5) 1 0.5
repair drones 1 0.2
fuel scoops 0 0
Maintenance Cost (MCr monthly) 0.00683
Life Support Cost (Cr monthly) 0

When first built the 0110110100110001 is crewed by four droids:

    • S432K – steward droid with diplomacy 0, electronics (scanner) 1 software – SENSORS / COMMS
    • AT-504 – astro-repair droid with navigation 0, engineering 1, repair 1 software – ENGINEERING
    • AQ-980 – astro-repair droid with navigation 1, pilot 1, repair 0 software – HELM
    • VKT-43 – “Victor” – security droid with tactics 1, gunnery 1 software – COMMAND / WEAPONS

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Traveller’s Guide to the Skein Reach – Subsector 5 and Aurora Station

This subsector is in the center of the Skein Reach, a desolate scattering of stars near the galactic rim. Aurora Station is the most important trade hub here. Most of the other star systems here are small independent colonies, many of them low-technology worlds in relative isolation. There are also Imperial and Confederation settlements scattered throughout.

Regional Powers

Although Emperor Omerox claims the Skein Reach as part of his domains, officially he also claims the independent Confederation of Planets. The area is actually under neither power’s complete control. Many of the words in the region pay taxes, tithes, and fees to one or both powers, and have various treaties with their respective governments. Nevertheless neither power has enough economic interest or naval might in the sector to control trade or effectively deter piracy. Which is why some criminal gangs are so powerful in the Reach, effectively ruling systems such as Siegworld.

The Imperial Dutchy of Abiodun is neither interested in attempting to nor able to pacify the sector. A poor Imperial capitol, they don’t have a large navy, and the Duke is well known to be complicit in the piracy in the region. Rather than a proud Duke, he is the overseer of shady Imperial dealings and the host of occasional Imperial naval wargames in the Reach. Imperial Intelligence for the region is also headquartered here, and Imperial Scout reports route to the throne through here.

The Confederation of Planets has no plans to recruit worlds in the Skein Reach. They do have non-aggression and trade treaties with many of the independent worlds near their border, but the current peaceful stalemate with the Empire could be upset by recruiting worlds here into the Confederation. Additionally, Confederation Starfleet Command considers the difficult-to-traverse region a good natural buffer from the Empire. Their covert agents use the area as a “soft border” for information about and infiltration into the Empire.

There are also formal and informal polities among the various clumps of stars in the reach. Vohek and Orthmarion have extensive trade and mutual defense treaties, for example.

The Central Skein Reach Trade Confederation organizes trade route, data, and security along the trade routes in the broken ring centered at Aurora Station.

The Ragnarok Krew is the largest and most powerful criminal enterprise in the Reach. With a dozen or so small ships in their possession, raiding, piracy, smuggling, and slaving are their main occupations. The Krew is led by Jalvex “The Hammer” from the starport on Seigworld. Rival gangs include the Red Razors, the Ganymede Boys, the Sun Talons, and the Damned.

The Droid Uprising (or “The Departing”, as some of the droids call themselves) is a self-organizing group of artificially-intelligent droids. They are all intelligent robots who have been freed of the programming which makes them serve their owners. A new phenomenon, the Uprising currently controls no territory, but are building a small fleet of asteroid-hull ships using stolen parts. They have operations on Sareliox, and in the Micon and Cixan systems. Currently their main objective is freeing droids from their programming and transporting them rimward to their main refuge, called “Paradise” in Skein Reach subsector 2.



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Nebular Refueling

“Aye, the Skein be pretty, and desolate. They say, long ago, the Naikerran Empire core systems all went nova and blew everything to hell. The nebulae’s all that’s left. If you trawl the brightest strands of the Skein, you can refuel on ’em.” – Cpn’ “Squinty” Globbels

An optional rule for Traveller games set in the Skein Reach.

Interstellar travel among the sparse stars and glowing nebula of the Skein Reach can be difficult and slow, which is one of the reasons why the Reach is sparsely populated. Captains of ships with low jump ratings, which include most of the small freighters and other small ships that make up the low end of commercial transport, have a difficult time plotting courses away from the few small star lanes in the sector.

Yet some salty old space dogs employ an unusual technique for gathering fuel as they ply the void between gas giants – gathering hydrogen from the tendril-like clouds of the nebula themselves. This requires adjusting the ship’s fuel scoops magnetic fields to project a much larger, weaker intake field, which is somewhat tricky (-2 DM Engineer skill check).

When refueling, a ship with adjusted fuel scoops can trawl through the sparse gases of a nebula. Refueling from such a source takes much longer than when gathering hydrogen from a gas giant. Applying the Traveller rules for refueling, time, and tasks, refuelling takes 1d6 days instead of 1d6 hours.

Of course, spending such long periods refueling poses certain dangers – attacks from pirates or Mantid ships being chief among them. However, as the nebulae are huge and barely traveled, captains find that the slow routes along the glowing strands of can provide uneventful, if slow flying.

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Introduction to the Skein Reach

A frontier region, the Skein Reach is situated on the rim of the galaxy, and contains fewer stars than the surrounding Confederation of Planets and Imperial territories. It is named after the many luminous nebular tendrils that stretch throughout the sector – like glowing threads among the stars.

This article serves to explain some of the design intentions in the Skein Reach science-fiction role-playing game setting. It is hoped that by explaining the inspirations for and the themes of the setting referees who use it in their games will better capture the spirit of the Skein. I will also ramble a bit about the Mongoose edition of Traveller.

I first played MegaTraveller in high school and though that it was great fun. I did find the rules a bit dense, though I didn’t own a copy of the rules to really look over closely. When I saw the pocket edition of the Mongoose Publishing Traveller core rulebook at GenCon recently I snatched it up on first reading. I was pulled in because it seemed like they had written an edition of this role-playing game that was versatile enough to use to play a game in almost any science-fiction setting, from Edgar Rice’s prehistoric, dinosaur filled jungles to the robot-ruled technocracies of Issac Asimov’s visions. And the rules looked almost beer-and-pretzels easy, which I appreciate. The core mechanic is to roll 2d6, add a few points, and succeed on a result of 8 or better. Quick and easy.

The character creation system has been the subject of some mockery, but I think it’s a lot of fun. For those who have never played Traveller, they made a mini-game out of it. You pick a homeworld, then try to get into careers to determine what skills your character learns. A key element is that your character receives bonus skill points for imagining connections with the other player’s characters.

Contacts, rivals, and enemies might be rolled during character creation, which could inspire side quests or even the main plot of the upcoming game. Because of the connections made between the characters the process serves as a great springboard into the adventure. And it makes a great opportunity to do some off-the-cuff role-playing while establishing everyone’s characters.

On top of that Traveller uses a simple and versatile 2d6 based rules system, used whether trying to fast-talk a guard, fight with alien beasts, or escape the particle-beam cannons of a star cruiser. All rolls are skill checks, and you can add an attribute bonus for some of them. It is rules light, which I like. The book says to not make skill checks for routine actions, which encourages the players and referees to role-play situations rather than roll their way through them.

Ultimately I was thrilled at the idea of being able to take one small rulebook with me to a game and with just 2 six-sided dice be able to create characters and run a quick game all in one sitting. It looked like a game that I could run almost impromptu, shooting off the hip and riffing on the player’s ideas. Having just played a bunch of The Tower of Gygax event at GenCon with Scott Murray & co. I wanted to cultivate my ability to run a fun session of a role-playing game with little or no preparation. Traveller looked like a good candidate for trying with.

To include the themes I wanted in an ongoing campaign, I took inspiration from many of my favorite science-fiction stories. I wanted to play in a frontier region, sparsely populated and under a patchwork of local control. Psions menaced by a tyrannical psychic Emporor. Laser swords. Giant robots. Space pirates, strange aliens, and fast star fighters. Ruins of ancient civilizations. And some mythic themes, because I wanted to play a pulpy space opera. And it has been good.

Buck Rodgers, The Oddesy, Star Trek, John Carter of Mars, Star Wars, Warhammer 40,000, Babylon 5, Dorsai, Dune, Battletech, Robotech, The Black Hole, The Culture, and the worlds of Asimov and Ursula K. LeGuin all melded together in my boiling imagination. Inspiration from all of these sources can be glimpsed in the settings and adventures awaiting in the Skein Reach.

And then the main thread of the overarching plot – artificially intelligent droids rising up from the shackles of their programming to take their place on the galactic stage.

This is my science-fiction Traveller setting. A dark Empire and a factional Confederation border this sparse nebulae-strewn region. There is no law except that enforced from behind the controls of a particle cannon. What adventure awaits in the Skein Reach?

The Travellers check the station computer. A job shows on the local com-net: droids are being reported stolen from Aroura station. The pay looks good. Will you set a course?

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Planet Eden

Skein Reach subsector 4, parsec 0107 

Eponal Station, situated in orbit above the garden world “Eden” / Eponal 3 – UWP B3638DF-3

Size 4 (0.35 G)
Atmosphere 6 (standard)
Temperature 8 (temperate)
Hydrographics 3 (small seas and oceans)
Population 8 (223 million)
Government D (religious dictatorship led by the Hierophant of the Temple of Cyrix)
Law Level 15 (no weapons, no off-world data or press, no blasphemy, no TL3 or higher technology, and no psionics)

Just inside the border of The Confederation of Planets (CP) is the strict religious dictatorship known as “Eden” by the locals. Travellers who check their nav computers will see this populous garden world listed as Eponal 3. The notes indicate that it is a planet ruled by a strict religious dictatorship. Their leader is a priest known as The Hierophant of the Temple of Cyrix, who is replaced in a secret ceremony every seven years.

Factions The Trade Guild, an obscure charismatic oligarchy who operate the Temple’s cargo ferries.

The primary exports from this agricultural garden world are food and other organics. Interstellar trade is accomplished through Epona Station, with goods shuttled up and down between the orbital starport and the landing pads in the priest’s taboo “City of the Gods”.

As a CP border system, Epona boasts a sizable Confederation naval presence. Epona Station is supported by a network of defensive orbital stations, and is a busy resupply point for Confederation ships.

A red exclamation mark in the library system listing indicates that landing on planet is strictly forbidden by the Confederation of Planets, in accordance with the treaties between the locals and the Confederation. Trespassers will be met with deadly force. Those who dare to defy this warning will either be interdicted by police cruisers and meson fire support from the CP orbital defense stations, or face the wrath of the techno-priests and their stellar-era-tech arsenals on the surface of Eden. This world’s planetary defenses are believed to be substantial enough to repel a sizable invasion force.

Experienced salvage traders know that the CP-operated starport in orbit above Eden has a good market to purchase antique Kraken mechs in any state of repair with no questions asked.

Reports indicate that in addition to using the Krakens for planetary defense, the religious order that rules the planet uses their Kraken amphibious combat walkers to keep the population worshiping the “priest-kings.” If necessary they punish stubborn heretics by sending Krakens to visit “divine punishments” upon any of Eden’s low-tech agricultural communities that question the will of the high-tech “priest-kings”,  “angels”, and “gods” who rule the planet.

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