This article was the featured article in the July 2013 issue.
The author wishes to extend acknowledgement and thanks to Douglas Knapp, Jason Barnabas, Ian Wood, Jeffrey Schwartz, Richard Fields, and Jeff Zeitlin for their assistance and ideas in developing this article.
The Jump Remora is a little-understood creature. It was originally thought to be just a phenomena of Jumpspace, but what little research has been carried out, strongly suggests that they are living beings, though no evidence of sentience has been verified. Some have suggested that the being is an energy creature, as there are no current theories on how a corporeal being might exist in Jumpspace, but the physical nature of the remains suggests otherwise.
The Jump Remora may attach to a vessel at any point during the week in Jump. However, they apparently cannot survive the ship’s exit to normal space; all that will be found is a patch of residue on the surface they were in contact with. This patch is usually an irregular oval shape about a third of a meter in length, a mixture of organic compounds and metal particles, and difficult to remove by typical cleaning processes. The patch is often called, rather loosely, a Jump Barnacle. If not removed while in realspace using a special compound (available routinely at Class A, B, and C starports, and on a 2D roll of 10+ at Class D or E), Jump Barnacles seem to make it more likely that Jump Remoras will attach during subsequent Jumps. Though there is no evidence that Jump Remoras pose a threat to the ships they attach to or to their inhabitants, they do seem to affect the jump, increasing the duration of the trip. (Calculate the length of the trip (in hours) normally, and then roll 2D for each remora that attaches during the trip, and increase the length of the trip by the total number of hours rolled.)
Virtually nothing is known about the life or make-up of the creatures and they were unknown until 1100 when reports started emerging from Coreward and Trailing sectors bordering the Lesser Rift. Whether that was simply where they first appeared or whether it represents some kind of movement or migration across Known Space is yet to be determined. Since those initial reports, ships further to Spinward and to Rimward have been reported as affected as well. Others have attempted to map their occurrence and claim that there are “Sargasso” areas where they are much more common.
Various schemes have been tried to stop the remoras attaching themselves, from hull coatings of one sort or another to charging hullplates with various electromagnetic fields, and an entire ‘snake-oil’ anti-Remora industry has developed, swindling unwary shipowners and captains. Beyond that, rumors abound concerning the habits of the Jump Remora, from attraction or aversion to specific musical genres when played through the hull, to the detection of gravitic anomalies when Remoras are nearby. There are some claims of ship crews having actually seen the creature through hull inspection vids, or heard them as they attach to the hull, but no substantiating recordings have been produced and authenticated.
Chances of finding a Jump Barnacle after Jump: in sectors Coreward/Trailing from Reference roll 2D for 3-; in other sectors, roll 2D for 2-. Apply DM -1 for every patch not removed previously; the referee should also secretly apply DM -1 for anything that the PCs do that the referee deems effective in attracting Jump Remoras, and DM +1 for anything that the referee deems effective in dissuading them.
If Jump Remoras attach to the ship, roll 1D for the number of Jump Barnacles found on the hull.
Cost of cleaning: Cr500/Barnacle; some universities—particularly those further away from the remoras’ apparent origins—will pay the cost of cleaning and carry it out in order to conduct research into the composition of the Barnacle; they may also wish to debrief the crew and any passengers of the vessels at some length in order to track any variables that might be relevant. The questions could be quite trivial, rather personal and endless as well as the more expected types of thing about Jump origin/destination, length of Jump, design of ship, Jump grid make up and so on.
Most adventures regarding Jump Remoras are necessarily going to involve attempting to attract and learn more about them, or to repel them.
- The PCs and their ship are employed to ’troll’ for Remoras for research purposes. A team will be aboard to attempt to detect when Remoras attach or detach, and to monitor various variables. If the PCs do not have their own ship, they are asked to crew a ship that the researchers own but are not qualified to operate. In any case, this will involve several jumps between the same two systems.
- The PCs are employed to try various means of preventing Remoras from attaching to the ship. Some of these may, at the referee’s discretion, increase the risk of damage to the ship, or of misjump.
- If the Referee’s view of Jumpspace allows, the PCs are hired as in (1), but are also expected to go EVA to take readings, and to attempt to capture/secure a Remora if one is found on the hull.
- The PCs ship comes out of jump with Barnacles on the hull. They are refused clearance to dock unless and until the Barnacles are cleaned off, and insist on a quarantine period of 2D days afterward. They refuse to give a reason for either demand, nor will they provide cleaning assistance.
- The PCs arrive at their destination and dock, requesting Barnacle removal service, which is routinely granted. Upon offloading their cargo, they discover that some of the containers—and some of those containers’ contents—are contaminated, with the same compounds found in the Barnacles. There is no evidence of hull breach or any entry into the ship during jump.
- The PCs are in a system when a ship exits jump broadcasting a distress signal. As the PCs respond, they observe hull damage where Barnacles appear. The crew of the ship swear that the hull was clean and undamaged when they departed a system J2 to rimward, and that they heard noises and the hull breach alarms were set off while they were in jump.