Feeding the Crew
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue.
After the holidays, most of us are trying to work off out holiday food indulgences. I thought it would be fun to take a look at where space travelers in the future might get their food. Clearly the bag of chips from the convenience store down the street is out. Some races may enjoy the hunt or prefer sea-based food, but in space habitats such as stations or remote outposts some sacrifices must be made.
Given the variety of sophonts found in the galaxy and their diverse origins, no single type of food is acceptable. K’kree and Vargr physiologies aside, a diversified diet is essential for long term health and satisfaction of those living in space. The same is true here on Earth. In short, this is about where the food is actually produced and the consequences of that origin. Planets can grow food for their inhabitants, but where do space crews get most of their food?
Where Does the Food Come From?
For systems without gravitic drive technology, agriculture is an essential planetary activity which could limit the maximum population on many worlds. In the United States in 2012, roughly 1 acre of arable land was required to feed 1 person for a year. Lower tech societies will generally have lower productivity per acre, and higher tech can reasonably increase the efficiency somewhat. If a low tech planet cannot produce enough food, people starve until the balance stabilizes. If a stellar technology system does not have enough arable land for growing their own food, they have two choices: 1) import food from other systems, or 2) grow the food in space.
Most polities want control over their own food supplies for self protection, so space (i.e., non-habitable regions of a system) might seem preferable. In order to grow food in space, some conversions need to be done. One acre is approximately 4050 square meters of cropland. When taking farming into space, it seems reasonable to use technology such as vertical farming, green walls, hydroponics, multi-level farming, year-round productivity, and more efficient water/fertilizer use. For lettuce in 2015, hydroponics used more water and energy but increased production per ‘greenhouse unit’ by slightly better than tenfold compared to regular farmland. Lettuce is one of the best hydroponic crops, so using this as the average future productivity standard suggests that about 350 square meters per person per year is probably doable. Note that this assumes a very high future productivity as we consume almost the entire lettuce plant. Few other crops come close to that. Improvements in other crops likely come from genetic engineering to maximize the percentage of the crop sophonts can consume.
In space, the challenges of farming change compared to living on a planet. Solar or fusion power make light inexpensive. Lighting can be optimized to provide the correct wavelengths for maximum growth and can be provided on whatever schedule is desired. Water can be recycled, so total hydroponics water consumption is reduced. Carbon dioxide used by the plants is a main waste product of humans and all biochemically related sophonts, so removing that is a net benefit to the station. Fertilizers have three key ingredients: nitrogen (usually in the form of ammonia or urea), phosphorus (for making nucleic acids), and potassium. All of these elements (as well as most of the trace minerals used by plants) are easily available from inorganic sources in space, and even concentrated vitamin solutions could be stockpiled for later use.
The major challenge for space farming is growing area or volume. Agricultural modules can be designed to stack atop one another and share common collecting tubes, but plants take up some volume and animals would require even more space to raise for food. Much of that volume will be air, but some will be drone harvesters, transport tubes, lighting, and such. No organism, including food crops, shrinks well and this is why living quarters are the same size at TL8 as well as TL15. One displacement ton (dton) has a volume of approximately 14 cubic meters; converting 14m3 to a short 1.4m height, this is roughly 10 square meters per ton. If 350 square meters are needed per person per year, then it would take roughly 35 dtons of agricultural volume to feed one person continuously for a year. Rounding up, that means roughly 30 people could be supported per 1,000 dtons of agricultural space. This volume displacement would allow a mostly self-sustaining ecosystem for living on a space station or moon base assuming efficient waste and water recycling.
Put another way, a moon base supporting an average population of 10,000 sophonts would require 0.33 million dtons of agricultural space to feed that many people without food imports. At 4,000 credits per dton for hollowing out a planetoid base, the 330,000 dtons would cost 1,320 MCr just to provide the space to feed that many people, independent of staterooms, power, harvesters, etc. For large constructed modules (assuming half price for dispersed structure), space costs roughly 0.05 MCr per dton. (It would cost nearly twice as much using standard Cepheus Engine hull costs.) That means 330,000 dtons of space comes to approximately 17,500 MCr (more than ten times as expensive) to feed those same 10,000 sophonts. A trillion-credit agricultural ‘squadron’ built in space could only feed about 570,000 people annually.
How Do Futurists Feed their Future Populations?
One workaround fiction authors have used for years is to eat yeast grown in large vats, often with different additives to give various flavors or textures. In reality, yeast digest the same food we do, particularly sucrose, molasses and various other sugars. They do not photosynthesize and therefore they cannot contribute to the actual food supply. In space, the beauty of photosynthesis is that it takes human waste (not just excrement but carbon dioxide as well) and converts it back into consumable food. Since yeast consume sugars and produce their own waste (which may be rather tasty when produced from barley or grapes), they are clearly a poor choice for a primary food source.
Algae cultures might take the place of yeast vats, but the opaque nature of any algae culture (since it must, by definition, absorb light energy to photosynthesize) puts an upper limit on the density of the organisms used. Under ideal high density conditions, algae achieve only about 50% of the biomass that yeasts can. This assumes optimal nutrients, pH, atmosphere, etc. For algal species commonly cultured during the 1990s, typical conditions used produced only 250 mg (yes, milligrams!) of algae per liter according to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) Fisheries technical report. Improved technology and genetic engineering would certainly improve that poor yield, but the denser an algae culture becomes the less light can penetrate it.
A second type of culture that exists might be known as ‘carniculture’, or vat-grown meats. Even today there are lab grown meats that are produced from cultured animal muscle cells. The problem, again, is that the animal cells do not photosynthesize and therefore consume more in ‘food’ molecules than they produce. The pharmaceutical industry has used bioreactors of several thousand cubic meters in volume, so the vats can be as large as desired. But if cells are floating around in a liquid, the density of those cells must be lower than solid animal tissues such as muscles. They may make a more healthy or pleasurable diet for a carnivore, but volume-wise, they are not equivalent.
When viewed under these conditions, habitable planets are the least expensive method to feed sophonts of all types. Inhospitable planets and asteroids could provide the raw materials and resources to protect the environment of the fertile planets and garden worlds. Given that the United States alone had over 900 million acres of farmland as of 2012, habitable planets are clearly the most important source of food in the galaxy. Semi-habitable worlds with non-toxic restrictions may also be quite productive depending upon the crops growing there.
Water planets with their massive oceans of productive volume could supply an incredible amount of algae for feeding sophonts across the galaxy. As an extreme case, consider a small 5,000km diameter water planet. This planet would have a surface area of 78.5 trillion square meters; if light penetrated 50m deep, that would provide a maximum growing volume of 3900+ trillion cubic meters. If only 1% of that volume was used for food production and it was only 1% as productive as a dense algae culture aboard station, that one small planet would be equivalent to 390 billion cubic meters of (relatively expensive) algae culture. In all cases, planets have significant cost advantages per ton of food production compared to anything in space.
You Are What You Eat
Technology tends to shrink things over time where the same object, whether it is a computer, explosive, or reactor, becomes smaller but carries out the same function. The biggest problem with miniaturizing agriculture or food is the same reason staterooms don’t change size with higher technology – organisms don’t shrink well. One of the most outstanding features of Traveller is that people in the future are still basically people (aliens excepted). They have the same general needs such as housing, water, company, and of course food. Other organisms, including plants used for food, must be similar to the organisms consuming them. Crops can be genetically engineered and optimized for a particular environment (we’re already doing this on Earth today!), but they are still made of the same fundamental components. They have the same basic biochemistry, and while a tiny multi-vitamin can provide all of the ‘nutrients’ humans need for a day, they do not provide the calories that keep us going.
Calories come from three sources: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In their pure state, carbohydrates and proteins each provide roughly 4 calories per gram. Fats are the most energy efficient molecules we use at 9 calories per gram. A typical human uses about 2000 calories per day; an active marine consumes roughly 3500 calories per day. To obtain even the base number of calories would require over 200 grams of lard or lard-equivalent. Alternatively, a solid crystal of sugar would need to weigh about 500 grams to provide those 2000 calories. The far future would easily be able to produce a tasty and nutritious combination of these main ingredients, but the mass of the calories would be the same. Short of changing biochemistry or allowing ‘picotech’ to reassemble elements akin to Star Trek replicators, however, it’s hard to picture a technology compressing and then uncompressing molecules.
Taking Food to the Hungry
Importing food to stations and asteroid systems is thus likely critical for their survival. When examined closely, a station such as Babylon 5 (250,000 ‘souls’, five million ‘tons’) could not support itself. Five million tons of just agriculture space would feed roughly 143,000 people but allow nothing else, while 250,000 sophonts would need 8.75 million tons devoted just to agriculture. Because many stations are continuously inhabited far from homeworld support, these stations would require regular resupply runs to keep fed.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station consume roughly two kilograms of food and water per day, and considering the cost of shipping anything from Earth to low orbit NASA minimizes weight everywhere they possibly can. Freeze-dried foods which have 98-99% of their water removed are some of their favorite meals. (NASA even commissioned the development of freeze-dried ice cream for long duration spaceflight.) Therefore one ton of imported, processed food will feed (approximately) 500 people well for one day. Emergency rations (those who eat Datrex or Mayday ration bars know the drill) have a lot of calories (close to 5 calories per gram) but could only feed 1000 people per ton at full calories. The rations may taste better, but proteins, fats, and sugars are only so dense. Disaster recommendations try to provide individuals approximately 1,200 calories per person during emergencies, or at best feed 2000 people per ton given molecules we currently digest. Better technology can hopefully improve the taste and texture of concentrated rations, but without changing the basic chemistry it would be very challenging to make the food more concentrated.
Returning to the Babylon 5 example, the station would have to get 500 tons of NASA-level processed food every day from somewhere to feed its 250,000 sophonts. For stations near habitable planets, these shipments might be relatively easy. For an asteroid based system, though, having reliable sources of food shipments would be essential. Disrupting even a few food or water shipments to a base (on Ceres, perhaps?) might quickly create a humanitarian disaster. (“Remember the Cant!”, for those of you who are fans of The Expanse.) Naturally, having several cargo bays of rations would be a common practice, but for an extended siege deliveries would become critical at some point. If Babylon 5 reserved 10,000 tons of cargo for nothing but emergency ration bars, they could provide the crew full calories for only about 40 days. Giant sized stations require giant sized food reserves.
Just like medieval castles centuries ago, blockades are perhaps the most effective way of neutralizing space bases of all sorts. Stations can have deadly weapon arrays, but meson bays and nuclear torpedoes do not taste very good come dinnertime. Starving people become desperate, and this was historically how ‘impregnable’ castles would eventually fall. Supply lines in the future will be just as important as they are during any historical time period. This dependence on supplies leads naturally to profitable but dangerous activities such as blockade running, privateering, profiteering, hoarding, price gouging, breaking a blockade, etc.
Another way of taking over a space station might be to contaminate or poison the station’s food supply and make it unfit for consumption. In the original Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”, Klingons poisoned the wheat (OK, “quadrotriticale”) intended to support a remote outpost in contested space. Given the variety of engineered viruses and plagues available in the far future, a debilitating illness striking at a critical time could give the invaders a quick victory instead of a protracted, expensive siege. The Klingon plan may not have been successful, but that does not make it an invalid strategy and tribbles aren’t found everywhere.
Starships typically do not have to worry as much about the volume of food they consume. Not only do ships have relatively small crews compared to stations, they also typically visit known planets or bases quite regularly. A 2500-ton cruiser with a crew of 100 sophonts, for example, would need less than 1.5 tons of processed food per week to keep everyone well fed. A small freighter with a crew of five could go for more than three months on one ton of processed food. Long duration missions into unknown space might be a problem, but normal deployments or trips require minimal space for food storage. A starship uses far more fuel than food. Stations and outposts which are continuously manned and located far from home, however, generally need rather extensive dedicated agricultural facilities if they are to be self sufficient.
Food for Thought
Food is one of the most basic needs humans possess, and while technology advances people are still fundamentally people. Keeping a population fed is one of the central goals of any leader. Fredric the Great (also attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte) once said ‘an army travels upon its belly’. Centuries later, Highport Commanders and Imperial Admirals will almost certainly have many of the same concerns as their planet bound predecessors.
Adventure Seeds (Not for eating)
It Must Have Been Something I Ate
Required: ship with research lab(s), medical skill
Reward: 5,000 Cr
Players’ Information: You have finally exited jump space and are heading toward Rivadas Station for a brief R&R and scheduled maintenance. It is a small and out-of-the-way location, but at least their walls look different than the ones surrounding you for the last month. You are still waiting for a response from your preliminary docking inquiry, and you’re starting to wonder if the radio operator is asleep at the console. Long range scans show nothing abnormal. After a couple of repeat inquiries you get the following somewhat hoarse response punctuated with lots of coughing. “Scout Vessel Liastri (or insert other ship here), this is Rivadas Station. Assistance is requested. Illness has infected half the station, and the other half has isolated itself. Request diagnostic and medical assistance.”
Referee’s Information: Station crew have a severe sore throat with pustules, cramping, and more severe cases involve coughing up blood. Air is clean, as are water and surface cultures. It appears to be a virus infecting bacteria common in the mouths of humans and Vargr (which make up 90+ percent of the station’s crew). Their small sickbay is overwhelmed and the station medic is one of the worst affected.
- The virus is found contaminating the most recent pork shipments. A vegan extremist aboard a visiting freighter planted the virus, but the ship’s departure was delayed and they’re now stuck on station. The freighter wants to leave immediately after the illness is traced to food.
- An Aslan corsair arrives after the source is identified but before everyone is healthy. (Normally it would be too small to take on a station this size if the station had a healthy crew.) If the station can’t fool the Aslan raiders that few people are ill there is likely to be a fight.
- As #1, but it is an Aslan saboteur on the freighter followed by the corsair, and they know the virus doesn’t affect Aslan.
- The virus hides in beans and has been engineered to resist most common antiviral medicines. A visiting freighter medic (rogue agent for a pharmaceutical outlet) desired to test their virus before infecting a massive harvest on a nearby major agricultural world. They have a stockpile of the effective antiviral which they plan to sell for millions, and a single vial of virus which fell to the back of their freezer.
- A disgruntled fired cook contaminated a refrigerator with the virus. He is taking antivirals and was scheduled to leave aboard a freighter that was delayed from leaving because people got sick sooner than intended.
- The virus is contaminating rations intended for the Imperial Cruiser Festivus due to dock next week. A cook accidentally removed the wrong food from storage and caused the outbreak early. The accident likely prevented the Festivus crew from being sickened during Jump where help was unavailable.
Profiteers to the Rescue!
Required: cargo ship with a load of basic consumable goods, broker
Reward: a really good price for a common cargo
Players’ Information: You have just jumped into the Laurentis subsystem (change name as desired), a low population (3-5) asteroid mining system. As your ship approaches the class (B or C) starport of Laurentis Station you receive the following bulletin on the emergency channel. “…Repeat, there has been an explosive decompression of cargo bays 4 and 5 resulting in the dispersal of our food reserves. Recovery efforts have had some effect, but losses of approximately 80%-90% are expected. An emergency aid request has been sent aboard the freighter Oresthes, but a response will take at least two weeks to reach Laurentis. While not an immediate threat, individuals will not be able to obtain supplies from Laurentis Station. Food rationing should begin immediately for all ships and installations expecting distribution of these recent imports.…” While shocking, this isn’t entirely a bad thing since you’re carrying tons of basic consumables.
Referee’s Information: Laurentis Station is the main supply depot for a small mining system. After their serious issue, many people are going to be hungry without new food supplies which the players have. Assume a reasonable broker skill for the station (1 or 2) and normal negotiations, but give a +3 DM to the players (in addition to normal trade modifiers) for their good timing. Negotiations, however, take a certain amount of time if players want to make a good profit and lots of things might happen…
- A drunk ore miner pilot caused the decompression. A group of miners are not pleased with the ‘exorbitant’ prices being charged by the players. They use a small craft or docking bay access to try and steal at least some of the cargo.
- Same as #1, but it is the station administration itself which wishes to commandeer the cargo semi-legally.
- An accidental explosion from mining explosives caused the decompression. An enterprising freighter captain offers the players a good deal on a higher value cargo that could be sold profitably in a nearby system in exchange for the food. Too bad his cargo was stolen from that very system…
- Some criminals rigged the explosions and have a freighter full of food coming in a few days to profit from the emergency. They are not happy to have their plans ruined and will take matters into their own hands to gain their ‘fair’ share of the profits by either arranging the loss of the players’ cargo or stealing the credits afterward.
- Humaniti extremists caused the decompression and threaten repeated actions unless the aliens running the station (pick one or more races) are removed. The station commander is relieved that the players don’t exploit their opportunity to the fullest and gives them a profitable deal on some unrefined ore and a contact. If players are exploitative, she pays but orders a ‘safety inspection’ which delays the players, provides fines for any illegalities, and gives the player a rival.
- Humaniti extremists caused the decompression as above. A group of somewhat desperate, poorly supplied human families attempt to beg for food. If they are supplied, more people come and several tons of supplies will be used but the players will be remembered fondly (treat as a contact). If they aren’t supplied, petty thieves make the players miserable the entire time they are on station and the Humaniti extremists target the anti-Human players.
Required: engineering, mechanic, life science and/or medicine
Reward: 3,500 Cr
Players’ Information: You have just arrived at Vaidura Dome, a very small research station located on an inner moon of a distant gas giant. The five resident scientists are studying the the odd magnetic properties of the planet and their effect on heating the moon’s surface. You are bringing them extra supplies and a few tons of spare parts. They get most of their food from a small ag dome that supplies their modest needs, but there is an odd problem with their Ag system. While they are good physical and materials science people, none of them are good at understanding living organisms. They need some help figuring out what is wrong.
Referee’s Information: Vaidura Dome has been self-sufficient for the last two years after adding a somewhat large 400-dton agricultural dome on the lunar surface powered by solar energy. It has reduced the need for supply runs and scientists can now be exchanged only every six months, saving credits. Recently the dome has been having agricultural related problems.
- One of the scientists is sick of the isolation at Vaidura Dome and contaminated the fertilizer supply with zinc. While not directly harmful to people, the plants are being stressed and wilting. Removing the zinc from the fertilizer (using chelating chemicals available on station) can solve the problem. The disgruntled scientist is a different matter.
- Water to the Ag dome is being contaminated by hydrogen sulfide from a small crack in the cistern. The sulfur is poisoning the plants and causing a faint rotten egg smell. Adding dilute bleach in the cistern will oxidize the sulfides and make the water usable, and the cistern will have to be repaired.
- Too much ammonia is being used in the fertilizer due to a stuck valve and causing the soil to acidify and the plants to wilt and turn brown. Limestone from one of the small moons nearby can increase the soil pH, but the peppers and tomatoes need to be salvaged and replanted.
- Cadmium contamination of the phosphate fertilizer has poisoned the soil. Cadmium can be removed from the soil by washing with sophorolipids, but the contaminated fertilizer must be replaced. The company which supplied the fertilizer doesn’t want to admit it screwed up and tries to deny the source, but must be forced to issue a recall of that fertilizer batch.
- The chickens which provide most of the meat on station are failing. They are being poisoned by avocado pits and skins being composted after recently being added to the gardens. Removing the avocados and temporarily segregating the chickens will fix the conditions.
- Magnesium and calcium salts coming from hard water are slowly poisoning the hydroponics system. Extra flushing using distilled water will reduce the concentrations and adding activated carbon filters will prevent it from recurring.
Adventure Among Algae
Required: mechanic, explosives, melee or gunnery
Reward: 6,000 Cr
Players’ Information: The players have been hired to investigate the murder of Ooendyk, a senior cargo supervisor aboard Elaborn Highport. He has had a long career with hardly a blemish on his record. His primary responsibilities are animal and food imports and exports. He was apparently killed in or near his office (with or without lots of water and dead fish) and dragged to a janitorial storage closet where he was discovered when the janitorial robot finished recharging.
Referee’s Information: The algal culture facilities form a critical part of life support and food production system for Elaborn Highport. Six 10cm transparent tubes filled with green algae surround a central brightly lit central LED tube, with eight sets of tubes arranged floor to ceiling. Each section of tubing is 10 feet long with two feet of machinery for bubbling gasses, feeding, or draining cultures at each end. Each facility is serviced by several robots and human techs to maintain normal highport operations and may be used as obstacles or hostages. The people being hunted by the players (more background for the players is described below depending upon the seed chosen) have their own interests. Players have to not only take out the enemy but minimize damage to the culture facility itself.
- The two murderers are actually agents who killed Ooendyk to hide their importation of 5kg of purified Cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, in a fertilizer shipment. They have a small chemistry lab in their quarters where they converted the cadmium metal into a more bioavailable form. They plan to introduce their poison into the station algal facilities to try and cripple the Highport and drive more traffic through a competing Megacorp station.
- As #1 above, but they imported 500g of plutonium powder instead of cadmium. Ooendyk was killed because his radioactivity sensors detected the plutonium. The players will likely think of making a nuclear bomb, but the amount is only about half of what is required for a bomb. Plutonium is also, however, extremely toxic and that toxicity is what the agents are after. The plutonium and the agents can be traced by the radioactivity.
- The murderers are thugs who imported hallucinogenic mushrooms and are trying to get away from the players. While the players may (or may not) care about the culture facility, the thugs don’t and are insensitive to damage to the algal cultures. The tubes are just a convenient place to hide their drugs.
- An enemy agent imported Cyanobacter microcystin, a toxic species of algae, in a vial hidden in an aquarium exhibit. Unfortunately the vial broke and Ooendyk became worried when all of the fish in the tank arrived dead. The fish were poisoned by the Cyanobacter and the enemy agent killed Ooendyk and dumped the water and dead fish in his office (make sure his office is wet and full of dead fish when searched). The agent(s) plan to poison the algal system with Cyanobacter and force the entire system to be sterilized and reseeded, taking weeks.
- Ooendyk noticed an unusual drop in algal productivity and was killed for investigating it. A cargo bay is being used to grow hallucinogenic mushrooms using decomposing algae and one of the algae techs is supplying the material from the tubes. She knows the algae rooms well and tries to flee through the area.
- Some creative technicians are growing algae engineered to produce a hallucinogenic drug. Ooendyk caught them exporting it and was killed to silence him, but they did not recover all of the drug (some is in his office). The techs know the algal facility well and will do their best to get away.
Hungry Hungry Hyphoids
Required: weaponry, combat skills
Reward: 6,000 Cr
Players’ Information: There is an incursion of hyphoids into one of the Ag domes on the highport. Two Ag Techs were chased from the dome by at least 6 of the beasts, and unless they are stopped soon they will likely ruin the entire dome’s crop and potentially infect other Ag domes. Several teams are being assembled to make sure the hyphoids are only found in the one dome, and it has been sealed to prevent their further spread. Your entryway airlock will be the only way in or out. While the dome could be depressurized and depowered, the crops are ready to be harvested and killing everything in the dome would be very expensive. The goal is to kill or capture the hyphoids while doing minimum damage to the agricultural crops, then find the source of the infestation.
Encyclopedia Xenologica reports that hyphoids are 6 kg, eight-legged, scaled omnivores from (your favorite low population, low arable land, cold world here) who only become aggressive when they are ready to reproduce. Food binges in their environment stimulate the maturation of pre-fertilized larvae which are stored in a stinger in their tail. The larvae are injected by the stinger and burrow into animal hosts where they are incredibly painful for about three days. The larvae then form a chrysalis which matures over three months. When the larvae hatch they are extremely hungry and generally devour the unfortunate host organism from the inside without medical intervention.
Referee’s Information: Hyphoids are about the mass of a cat but with shorter legs and a stinger in their tail. They can bite, but their tail is their primary danger. They are quite agile, but are somewhat slow. Because they are from the tundra, players may think that heating the Ag dome will cause the hyphoids difficulty (happens 50% of the time, -1 DM on all physical actions). They are also from a planetary environment, and so may not be used to fighting in zero gravity. 2/3 of the time they are right (-2 DM on melee if the gravity is turned off). Players may or may not have trouble in zero-G, although shooting a machine gun burst in zero-G is not encouraged.
Hyphoid: 6kg omnivore-eater
tundra walker, # appearing: 3D
5A4146, 1 pt armor (scales)
athletics-0, melee (natural weaps)-1, survival-1, recon-0
bite (1d6), stinger (1D+33% chance of larva infection), speed : 4.5 m/s
- The hyphoids are tagged as zoological specimens (a metal band around their left rear leg) which accidentally escaped from the safari ship Botswana that was docked near the Ag dome. The Botswana left the station just after the hyphoids were discovered and are not answering any hails as they boost out of the system.
- As #1, with broad, leafy plants growing in the Ag dome which obscure normal vision but not infrared (-2 DM on ranged attacks that do not use infrared scopes).
- The hyphoids were illegally brought onto the station by the free trader Kenyan Masai which docked for a routine servicing. Three private quarters on the ship but no other Ag modules have Hyphoids in them.
- As #3, but the sugar beets being grown in the dome act as stimulants for the hyphoids (+1 damage, +1 dodge).
- The hyphoids were intentionally released into the dome by a disgruntled former employee. They have more in their quarters and will release them in another Ag facility if not stopped.
- The hyphoids were introduced via #1 or #3 above. They have eaten the squash growing in the Ag dome, but are acting drunk and are less effective than they ought to be (-1 DM). Medical tests on the hyphoids reveal they have been drugged with cucurbitacin E. The drug is being produced in the squash from a non-toxic precursor chemical introduced into the module’s water supply. Humaniti terrorists calling for the removal of ‘alien influences’ threaten more acts against food supplies.