Monday, January 14, 2019

Leaving the Starport might be harder than you think

Please have your TAS documentation ready. All bags will be searched.

From the US State Department's Travel Advisory website:

Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. China uses exit bans coercively:
  • to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,
  • to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and
  • to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.
U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.
Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.
China does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and China may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.

Hmm. If the Chinese on Earth would do this to foreign nationals in their country, why would not sovereign planetary governments do this to Travellers?

Here are some simple rules for adjudicating the PC's entry or exit into a world.

In the OTU, this may be handled differently. I wrote these rules for my ATU, in particular for Holtzmann's Corridor, where there is no Imperial government sitting atop the locals telling them what to do.

Leaving the starport is not always that easy . . .
In nearly all cases, a planet will consider that a starport is extraterritorial, and not subject to local law, but will also enforce strict entrance and exit controls”

Book 3, Worlds and Adventures, page 1

The throw is Law Level or better to be permitted entrance to the world,
or to exit it.
DMs: +Admin, or Liaison or Bribery skill. +3 if PC is obviously SOC-11 or better.
If exiting the world with a High Passage, DM +3. If the PCs can show credentials (e.g. for skills the world needs, or diplomatic passes) DM +1 to +3
Referee may allow other DMs based on Starport type, government type or population. Amber Zones and Red Zones should have -DMs. 

Exit this way for Adventure!

If the PCs are (Talaveran) Imperial citizens:
on Imperial Client states DM+6
on Triplanetary worlds, DM -3
on Tabraz, Entrance not permitted
If the world is listed as anti-religious,(see my post on a Religion Index) DM -1 to -3 depending upon PC's show of religious affiliation.

The possibility of being denied a starport exit might persuade ship owning PCs to try landing in the wilderness. I will get to that topic in another post.

Failing the exit throw results in an exit duty being assessed. Charge each PC 1Dx1,000 cr before permitting departure.

At least a few references to this kind of encounter can be found in the Dumarest of Terra series (I'm up to #5, Jester at Scar).

In Cepheus Engine rules terms, the starport entry/exit throw is related to Law Level description:

No Law, task is Simple
Low Law, task is Easy
Medium Law, task is Routine
High Law, task is Average

Extreme Law, task is Difficult


  1. For MT, I'd probably set the Task difficulty as Special (Law Level+), with Admin or Liaison, SOC as the DMs, then in the special notes point out that Bribery can be used to add to Admin/Liaison, and that SOC of 11+ gives an additional DM+1 if made known. The bribe would probably be something like Law Level x Cr100, with a minimum of Cr50, adjustable at the Referee's whim. You could set the Task difficulty according to the Cepheus Engine difficulties that you mention, of course.

    1. I just realized, in MT, Liaison can act as Admin at minus 1, so maybe just make it Admin, SOC with the special notes about Bribery and Noble status.

  2. As someone who travels for work internationally, I often flummoxed my players with realistic xtrality crossing procedures rather than the pre-9/11, pop into Canada/Mexico to party, border crossings most assumed were the norm. The rules in Book 3, like all of Classic's rules, were both suggestions and places from which to start and not a one-size-fits-all, roll X and always get Y, tasks.