This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue.
Starships. Multiple Contributing Authors.
Tabletop Adventures http://www.tabletopadventures.com
Tabletop Adventures has created a useful system-agnostic supplement for referees who find themselves at a descriptive loss. Derelict Starships does not, as might be implied by its title, provide entire abandoned or damaged or destroyed starships complete with statblocks and deckplans, but instead provides one-paragraph descriptions, similar to what one might encounter in a text adventure/interactive fiction, of what might be encountered by PCs while exploring such a starship.
The supplement is divided into five parts. The first part, “Bits of Starships”, provides 100 generic descriptions that could be applied to almost any area of a starship, rather than being tied to specific rooms or specific types of rooms—and most of the descriptions could be applied to derelict space stations, asteroid bases, or even planetary ground installations. Each description has bold text that is read to the PCs, and unbolded text that provides the referee with information needed to adjust the description based on the presence or absence of gravity or air, whether the PCs choose to explore further or just pass by a partly-obscured scene, and so on. Some referee information concerns possible minor tasks, such as dex checks to keep one’s footing when walking on wet or oily decks. The occasional found object is noted as well. Most of the descriptions are generic enough, but the referee should be careful about occasional mentions of technology which may be inappropriate to a particular Traveller universe. This section is copied, reformatted to fit on cards (six per page), as the fifth section of the book.
The next section, “Derelict Shards”, provides 110 descriptions that are tied to specific types of areas of the ship, beginning with #S1, a description as you approach a ship from outside, perhaps in a ship’s boat. The descriptions are grouped by area. Other than being specifically for e.g., a personal cabin, the medbay, the bridge, etc., these are much like the descriptions found in “Bits”. Occasional veiled references to SF classics may be found in this section.
The third section, “Skeletons in Space”, discusses the decay process that the human body undergoes. The process in normal Earthlike conditions is outlined first. This is followed by discussion of how differences in gravity, atmosphere, and presence or absence of insects, microbes, or other vermin affects the process. The section ends with three paragraphs of advice for referees and some bibliographic references that a referee so inclined could investigate for further information on human decomposition.
The fourth section is an index; each entry points to a description by Bit number or Shard number.
This is most definitely not a supplement for players; it is very definitely aimed solely at the referee. Whether it’s worth the price is going to depend on how often the derelict starship, space station, or base features in your adventures.