Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Adventures in Resource Discovery

This is an addendum to the previous post on the Class-E starport. I'm looking outside of my usual lane of politics-influenced adventures for more pulp-style endeavors.

Everyone who's played CT knows about Animal Encounters, right? And as a component of this, from TTB, page 96 we find “In addition to animals, the referee may include one or more events in his encounter tables.” And “An event's purpose is to add interest, atmosphere and perhaps a bit of danger to the adventurers' travels.”

The party of adventurers have set up their Class E starport as the base point for a new colony. They venture out to explore the wilderness around the base camp. What do they find? The Referee should prep an animal encounter table. That table should include Event encounters.

What kinds of events should there be? Well, there has to be a reason that the PCs parked their ship where they did. A new planet has plenty of room to select from, so why that particular spot?

One reason might be that orbital scans show the potential for exploitable resources. Look at the Trade and Commerce table (TTB, page 105). You will see a good list of natural resources or raw materials that might make the PCs rich. If the resource is something not listed on that table, you can use my Table of Random Values to assign it a value per ton.

How to locate these resources? I've posted here about a method for prospecting on planet surfaces. It may be easier to administer it by inserting “resource discovery” as an event on the tables.

Depending on the resource, the PCs may have to do some work to extract the resource, or it may be ready to hand. Trees or plants with specific qualities should be easy to locate (can you see the forest?)

while metal/mineral resources deep underground will be more difficult.

Several of the items in the Equipment section seem suited to the detection of resources. Metal detectors and radiation detectors can locate ore. Chainsaws can cut down trees. Many sci-fi properties have vaguely defined “Scanners” that aid in discovering whatever the plot called for. This game is about adventure, not science, so being vague is not a problem.

When a resource discovery event comes up, the PCs are in the vicinity of the resource and may discover it. The Referee tells the players that there are indications of a resource in the area they are in.

If they want to take the time to look closer, the Referee gives the PCs a task throw. Let existing skills and characteristics be the DMs to modify the search throw. See my older post on How to Search. Characters from the Scout Service should get a +DM for experience in planetary explorations. High Education would be helpful here, too.

Do the PCs have detection gear suited to the task? Assign a -DM if they don't. Maybe they don't know exactly what they're looking for, just “whatever looks valuable”. Assign a -DM for that too.

There's always the handy Situation Throw if the Referee is unsure of how difficult it may be to find a resource. The Referee also decides how long it will take the PCs to extract a sellable ton of the resource. I recommend rounding into ton lots just to keep it uniform with the Trade & Commerce tables.

The Referee should check for Animal encounters during any period of work on resource extraction. At this stage, Events can shift to things that add danger or excitement to the PC's workday.

The PC can suffer work accidents, bad weather, natural disasters. The resource could run out sooner than expected, or they discover a new resource. While the process of resource extraction is boring, the Referee should not let the players get complacent. This is about adventure, after all!

If you have access to Striker, that game has some useful models for the kinds of equipment the PCs will need.

A Workshop for repairing vehicles with “heavy tools required for major maintenance and repair” costs 50,000 credits and 1 displaces 1 ton. This is a good base reference for small-scale ore processing, lumber milling, or plant matter rendering.

A Bulldozer attachment for an ATV weighs half a ton and costs 2,000 credits. Similar digging or earth-moving equipment will mass and cost a similar amount.

Radar/ladar/meson devices could model detection equipment for subterranean resources.

An NPC assessor can tell them how much the find is worth. Merchant characters may have knowledge of such things.

The Adventure changes gears once the PCs find an exploitable resource. Establishing a new port will attract attention. The Referee can start checking for Starship encounters, say once a week.

When one occurs, throw on the Random Encounters table to discover exactly who has dropped in to visit. Are they hostile, or friendly? Are they government representatives asking for their permits or deeds to the land? Opportunistic adventurers or full-time pirates, or rivals looking to stake their own claim?

Running a ship back and forth from colony to market will call for more starship encounters. On the main world, there can be Legal encounters arising from their new trade. A local Merchant guild or similar may take interest in the PC's project, or see it as competition.

The PCs will at some point hire more NPCs to work the claim and build the settlement. All these employees expect pay. There will be more vehicles to move them and the resources around, and lots more to keep the PCs and players busy.

I'm disappointed that the Traveller Book did not explicate this kind of adventure more clearly. But the elements you need are there, so give exploration a try!


HUD explorer image credit: Pixabay

Mushroom trees image credit: Pixabay 

1 comment:

  1. As a long-time fan of Classic Traveller, I found the idea of incorporating resource discovery into our adventures to be a refreshing change from our usual politics-driven narratives. This addendum to the Class-E starport post is a goldmine of ideas for Referees looking to inject some pulp-style excitement into their campaigns. The detailed guidance on setting up animal encounters, events, and resource discovery not only adds depth to our exploration but also provides practical steps to keep the adventure engaging. I particularly appreciate the focus on adventure over strict scientific accuracy—it's exactly the kind of balance that makes Traveller so much fun. This approach has breathed new life into our sessions, turning routine planetary exploration into thrilling, unpredictable adventures. Highly recommended for any CT Referee!