Idea In development: Alien Artifact Starship

wbnc

Cosmic Mongoose
alien_derilict_by_wbyrd-da8frln.png


The image was supposed to be a gift to a friend who was running an Alien Artifact game where we encountered a drifting wrecked starship. Unfortunately, he passed away before I could send it to him....it was originally a for fun, and practice piece but I feel like putting it to use now that my friend can't use it himself.

I had considered using this as an adventure related to a Scout Survey special survey and exploration group I have cooking on the back burner..this would be a part of that trying to work up this ship as a setting for an exploration scenario, limited to one rather large location. with a linked combat military scenario...

General idea, exploration of massive alien possibly extra galactic starship that tears a path through several large powers and ends up loitering in a region near several major players...possible groups working together to explore the ship, keep it out of the hands of other power groups, and keep it from resuming it's path through the heart of the imperium.

The ship shows intermittent bouts of activity...drones/robots coming and going harvesting materials from local area...including some unfortunate accidents involving mining stations and passing ships that seem to have ran afoul of the drones...the drones are confirmed as unmanned and automated after examining wreckage recovered by local scavengers/security forces.

Every so often the ship jumps to a new system stays stationary for varying lengths of time as it's drones harvest materials then jumps again...the range of the jumps makes tracking it hard since it can jump well outside the range of even long ranged scouts, and pursuit craft.

the actual interior would be the focus of the scenario rather than the ship as a vessel...it's easy to assume anything short of a squadron of Tigress with full escort would be wasting their time trying to assault the ship.


Obviously, a detailed exploration would be years in the process, and require a large survey team.

SoI am planning to keep it to a small "first in" team, basic quick once over, locate any living crew, determine nature and intent of the ship.

I would love som feedback. Ideas on how to handle mapping, creating encounters, and general guidelines on how to bring this overly ambitious idea into some sort of manageable package.

I would also like any "Negative" suggestions..basically, what I should avoid, and what tropes cliches to avoid.

My plan is to use smaller detailed maps for various chambers within the ship and general maps of larger sections. Since the design is highly modular with repeating sections I was thinking it would work.

As for actual stats, this beast is so big that it goes way outside the practical scale of most ships. one of the small pods attached to the spine is larger than the empire state building...roughly 75K ton each...if my math and information is accurate.

I am curious on ideas to handle actually mapping this beast out...it's basically a city in space so a detailed deck plan is right out ...

I am highly interested in what specific ship sections as players or GMs would be vital to the game, and what information would be less critical.


My to do list

Living module:
Entire neighborhoods packed into each of the modules along the spine...housing, life support, recreational area, hydroponic gardens still functional and full of both uncatalogued and familiar life forms.

engineering sections ( large central mass between spheres at back of ship)
mostly automated and just massive sections of TL-Wtf hardware with a few living sections for engineering crew, workshops and construction decks.

Drive Modules: (Big spheres at the back of ship) Massive "TL-wth?" rings within rings housed within the globes...powered down at the moment..no evidence of living areas or fuel sources. massive power cores at center of rings...

Spine modules: workshops automated refining and extraction drone, fighter drone hangers.

Forward sphere, command center, weapons, laboratories....possible indicating hybrid warship research ship.

Docking bays along rear spine...obviously meant for more modules and very large attached auxiliary vessels.



This isn't a short term project so will be working on it off and on again until after I have some other projects ready to go...so I wanted to try get input before settling in to do the bulk of the work.
 

rust2

Banded Mongoose
A very interesting idea. :)

A while ago I used a similar scenario, based on 13Mann's Traveller adventure Hephaestus, which could well be worth a look:
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/124561/Traveller-Hephaestus?term=heph

I did change a couple of elements of the adventure, but mainly to make the things discovered on the ship more useful for the sponsors of the exploration team. For this purpose I also added some weird technology from supplements of the Stars Without Number roleplaying game, which in my view has some rather good ideas concerning truly alien technology.

I think the most important advice I could give you would be to avoid to turn the exploration of the ship into a kind of dungeon crawl with lots of combat against technological monsters and instead to focus on a feeling of mystery, perhaps even occasionally bordering on horror.
 

hivemindx

Mongoose
For people exploring a tiny part of an artefact that is way too big for them to take in you should see if you can take any inspiration from Larry Niven's Ringworld or Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama.

I would handle mapping like you would map a city. You don't detail every room in every building, you map the roads, identify areas (like 'shopping district', 'light industrial area') and only do floor plans for places you expect your players to go. I've never had a map of every building in a city for my players. If they want to explore that specific office building I have a random office building map, same for shopping centres, restaurants, parks etc.

A ship that size is likely to have transit systems so show where they go as well as other features that they might use to travel. Like whatever the equivalent of rivers or sewers are on a ship like this. Then plan broad areas in a similar way to how some Traveller products do the plans for large ships, here be crew quarters, here be engineering stuff, etc. If you want to do something whereby there are different factions on the ship (perhaps like the Covenant in the Halo universe) you can note this too. Finally dial in on some specifics and do floor plans with everything down to an individual scale. A residential/quarters area with private rooms, dormitories, gyms, mess halls and quartermasters stores/shops (depending on how military it is), an engineering section with ship systems, maybe localised life support and power systems for that part of the ship or maybe the part of the ship happens to be near the main drive or power systems for the ship as a whole.

In Ringworld they only explored a minuscule fraction of the ring but it seemed like plenty. Trying to give your players a map of the whole place would be a mistake (and a colossal amount of work), just give them maps of the parts of the ship where they actually are.
 

wbnc

Cosmic Mongoose
hivemindx said:
For people exploring a tiny part of an artefact that is way too big for them to take in you should see if you can take any inspiration from Larry Niven's Ringworld or Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama.

I would handle mapping like you would map a city. You don't detail every room in every building, you map the roads, identify areas (like 'shopping district', 'light industrial area') and only do floor plans for places you expect your players to go. I've never had a map of every building in a city for my players. If they want to explore that specific office building I have a random office building map, same for shopping centres, restaurants, parks etc.

A ship that size is likely to have transit systems so show where they go as well as other features that they might use to travel. Like whatever the equivalent of rivers or sewers are on a ship like this. Then plan broad areas in a similar way to how some Traveller products do the plans for large ships, here be crew quarters, here be engineering stuff, etc. If you want to do something whereby there are different factions on the ship (perhaps like the Covenant in the Halo universe) you can note this too. Finally dial in on some specifics and do floor plans with everything down to an individual scale. A residential/quarters area with private rooms, dormitories, gyms, mess halls and quartermasters stores/shops (depending on how military it is), an engineering section with ship systems, maybe localised life support and power systems for that part of the ship or maybe the part of the ship happens to be near the main drive or power systems for the ship as a whole.

In Ringworld they only explored a minuscule fraction of the ring but it seemed like plenty. Trying to give your players a map of the whole place would be a mistake (and a colossal amount of work), just give them maps of the parts of the ship where they actually are.

I hve read Rendezvous With Rama,and several other works with similar themes quite often . I won't even pretend it's not an inspiration :)

I like the transit/Tourist map solution for the big picture approach, I can always use more detailed maps of key areas. Way back when I fist started playing one of my favorite things were the big city scale campaigns and map packs, Generally, they had large scale low detail maps. the specific locations, or reusable generic maps as reference materials.

It might be interesting to put those general large scale maps in the context f being readily available near airlocks or section connectors. Sort of along the lines of a fire exit, or bus route map. Which would make sense if the ship had an internal tramline.

The addition of a tramline would also be good to allow players to rapidly move through sections if the Ref wanted to use it. A starship of that size would almost certainly have to have such a system. If the Ref wanted to disable it and make figuring out how to use/reactivate it part of the scenario that might save it from becoming a dungeon slog.
 

hivemindx

Mongoose
Even though I mentioned transit systems, it wasn't until you actually used the word 'tram' that I thought of Half Life (the computer game). You could detail enclosed area, which don't necessarily have to be that small, and have a tram as the 'end of level' exit. The players could then zoom through a few tunnels, optionally transparent so they could see the awesome insides of the ship without being able to interact with them, and get deposited out in the next point of interest. Of course having an actual train in your game can incite accusations of railroading from your players so it is a tough call.

I though of another reference, the anime Knights of Sidionia is on Netflix and it's set primarily on a huge starship. The inside is very much like a city since the ship itself is very much like a hollow cylinder.
 
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