Solo Traveller: On Weird Worlds

The planet Herndon is an odd one, which makes it normal for the Traveller world generation system.  Check it out:

  • 9,000 miles across
  • Dense, tainted atmo
  • 30% water coverage
  • 50,000 population
  • No government, but grenades are outlawed

The last one is pretty easy.  There is a cultural proscription against grenades, poisons, and other personal and man-portable WMDs.  Which makes sense once you understand more about the planet.  And yes, I stole this idea whole cloth from Dumarest of Terra – The Jester at Scar, to be precise.

The whole planet is a blasted, barren rock for six months out of the year.  Thanks to an usually oblong orbit its summers are hot and dry and its winters cold and dry.  But oh, during the spring and fall does a kind of magic happen.  Huge rainstorms coming sweeping across the land, soaking the land and triggering an explosive growth of a riot of mushrooms of all sizes, shapes, and colors.  Most of them are useless nuisances, but some few have properties valuable to off planet interests.  Culinary, medicinal, decorative, and everything in between.  Prospectors come from around the subsector, hoping to scratch enough fungus from the planet to earn passage back and a few months of ease while waiting for the next harvest.

Situated on an island well out to sea, Mario Station (population 50,000) is the only permanent settlement on the planet.  It serves as base camp for the legions of harvesters, with hotels, motels, outfitters, saloons, casinos, air-raft rent-ems, massage parlors, and everything in between.  For the month before harvest, when the big rains come, the population doubles in size, then empties again almost overnight as the hordes of fortune seekers pour out onto the continents.

This give us a chance to take advantage of the hottest trend in tabletop RPGs: one-to-one time!

During the moths of March and September, the harvesters flocking to Herndon mean that any passenger ship will have +2 middle and +1d6 low passengers looking for a ride there.   Conversely, leaving the planet during those months will incur a -1 and -1d6 passengers, respectively. During April and October, latecomers and suppliers and assayers will give a +1/-1 bonus and penalty, and then in May and November you go back to the +2 for men leaving via middle passage and -2 for men looking to go to Herndon.  The same +1d6/-1d6 applies for low passages.

In this manner, you can add more real-world calendar effects to the game.  In my own campaign, you can see why Captain Munder Doose was so upset at a two-day delay in leaving Corvinus.  He has a limited window to get to Tobor and they get passengers from Tobor to Herndon.  If he can’t get off Corvinus in time, he stands to lose a lot of credits in a business with razor-thin margins.  Other ships will snipe his fares out from under him if he dallies.  He, and by extension the player (me), has to shake a leg.  And that will drive the action and present him (me) with some difficult choices in the near future.