Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Red School of Masks

Wearing masks is a common enough feature of worship all across Glorantha. Priests and initiates don masks and costumes and re-enact the old legends of the gods for the edification of worshippers all the time. In the Lunar Empire the mask has assumed a special religious significance, with various aspects of the Red Goddess being referred to as 'masks' and the various occupants of the Imperial Throne as 'masks' of the one true Red Emperor, whose soul lies behind all of them.

Most masks used in rites to depict gods and their legendary foes have a standard(ish) format and many are old, part of the ritual equipment of the temples and tribes, and if a new one needs to be made it is closely modelled on the old.

The following is partly drawn from the Tales Of the Reaching Moon #15 article on Moonbroth by Mick Brooke and Malcolm Serabian.

The Red School of Masks based in Moonbroth in Prax treat the idea of masks differently. They are a sect made up up of a motley crew of native and Lunar shamen, Lunar mystics and the 'moon-struck', lunatics from all backgrounds and walks of life who have been called by the red light of the moon. Non-members tend to call them 'Loonies'.

They all wear masks, but not the conventional standardised types used by most religions but their own original creations based on their own peculiar visions.

To become a member one must first have a vision. Cultists achieve this in various ways, drugs, reckless shamanic delving into the spirit world, fasting, inhaling the peculiar fumes in the volcanic caves around Moonbroth and dancing oneself into an exhausted trance is popular. The Red School is pretty anarchic and any method will do.

The key text of the cult is the Ode of the Wandering Moon, allegedly written by the Red Goddess herself, which described her descent into Hell and what she saw and did there. It is written in extremely obscure and symbolic language and interpretations of it vary widely. It is not considered part of the 'Rufus Scripts', the official liturgy of the Lunar Way, penned by Takenegi, the first Red Emperor, and most Lunar scholars consider it a blatant fraud.

The ideal is to follow the path of Teelo Estara into the underworld, achieve illumination and re-emerge, as Teelo Imara did, as a living god. But so far no one has actually done so, but they have emerged with a vision of the god they are destined to be, if not in this lifetime, then in another future one, and these are the masks the members of the School wear.

They take many forms. Praxian shamen tend to come out with some 'Lunarised' form of their previous tribal beast or one of the Great Spirits of Prax, Jakaleel and other Lunar shamen with strange demons and beasts found only on the moon, the various mystics and madmen with almost any damned thing.

The cult mask colours are usually black, red and white and they can be anything from a simple piece of leather up to a baroque confection of wood, metal, horn and glass. All will detect as being magical and all are supposed to give some hint of the god-like powers the user will one day command, but very few do anything practical. Members may make multiple versions of their mask, refining their vision, and take multiple trips into the Otherworlds, seeking to strengthen their potential god-hood.

The Red School of Masks

Lay Member
The School will take absolutely anyone, their dedication to the principle of Inclusion is impeccable. Whether a lay members previous cult or tribe takes kindly to their dabbling in a wierdo cult of dubious provenance is another matter, even many Lunar cults regard the Red School as dangerously heretical and outright bonkers.

Being a lay member is easy, hang out with the cult and help with the many experimental rituals, if you have not had a vision yet your turn will come. The main cult site is the ramshackle Temple of the Wandering Moon at Moonbroth, a collection of Praxian lodges and wattle and daub enclosures roofed with a mixture of skins and thatch to create a warren of small rooms. This spreads into an even more ramshackle camp site where dozens of Loonies jabber, shriek, dance, sleep, fornicate and eat in between altering their consciousness and importuning passing travellers for alms.

Can you spare a moment to talk about the MOON?

Initiate – Masked One
To become a Masked One, you must have a vision. Devise a method for breaking through into an Otherworld, the more outlandish the better. The basic roll ought to be POW plus two other characteristics, which might be POW again (depends on method – straight shamanic trance might be POWx3, massive doses of Hazia or other drug might be POWx2+CON, lying in a fire ant nest under the blazing sun with no food or water might be POW+CONx2, dancing frantically POW+CON+CHA etc.) Failure at this point results in loss of one point of a stat.

This is followed by a minor heroquest which will challenge 2d3+1 skills or stats. This may be entirely spiritual and take place in a trance, or be partly or wholly physical in which the candidate wanders around the desert, cave, city streets etc. being assailed by obstacles and enemies. The participant must also roll for Illumination, and if they get a critical success in any roll they permanently gain +1% to their chance.

Failed rolls:
If ALL rolls are failed the person becomes insane for 21-POW months, plus the effect as below.

Seven fails – gain a (D6) 1-3 Chaos Feature, 4-6 Anti-Chaos feature. The Red School are fine with chaotic and insane members, sadly the rest of the world is not so 'Inclusive'. Roll vs POW x 5% or become a (D10) 1-2 Broo, 3-5 Ogre, 6 Were-creature, 7 Gorp, 8 Strix (a kind of Lunar Harpy), 9 A hive of chaotic wasps, 10 Something else entirely.

Six fails – Attacked by a Moon-spirit with an eye to possession. The person is deemed to have been cursed by the moon and even if they succeeded a roll they are thrown out of the cult and have until the next full moon to get away or be slain. All chances of Illumination reset to 0%. If possessed by a moon-spirit they become a very odd NPC with mental health issues.

Five fails – Memory loss. Lose 5% or one point in all the skills or stats challenged. Cannot recall most of the vision. Lose 21-POW points of intelligence, regained at one per day, if INT becomes zero remain catatonic until it gets back into positive points.

Four fails – Lose 1 permanent POW or one runespell or one spirit becomes unbound and wanders off into the 23 Delayed Realm or lose one sorcery spell. Lose 21-POW points of intelligence, regained at one per day, if INT becomes zero remain catatonic until it gets back into positive points.

Three fails – Suffer a geas, which if broken results in attack by a moon-spirit.

Two fails – Infected by Brain Fever, roll for severity as usual, may be cured as normal.

One fail – No effect.

Successful rolls:
Seven successes – While wearing your mask you increase in stats by 1d6 points, no more than 3 in any one stat. This may include SIZ – the person physically grows towards god-like stature when wearing the mask. POW points may also be sacrificed for a re-useable Rune spell that can only be cast while wearing the mask, including any cult special from any Lunar cult whether a member of not. Gain 1d6% towards your chance of Illumination.

Six successes – The mask acts as a power crystal of the users choice, but half the strength of the crystal. May only be used while wearing the mask.

Five successes – The mask acts as a battle magic matrix for any spell up to 2d2 points. Any spell may be chosen, the caster does not have to know it already, and cult special spells may (at the GMs discretion) be chosen.

Four successes – Mask adds +1d3x5% to a non-combat skill, but carries a geas which only affects person while wearing the mask.

Three successes – Mask adds 5% to one non-combat skill. If fails outnumber successes Mask detects as magical, but does nothing.

Two successes – Mask detects as magic, but does nothing. If fails outnumber successes, no mask vision is gained and person remains a lay member.

One success – No effect.

Masks add 1 point of head armour, and may be made so as to give additional protection if money is spent on their creation. May not be worn with a closed or full helmet. All add +1 CHA when dealing with fellow members of the Red School of Masks, the six success version gives +2 CHA, the seven success gives +3 CHA.

The vision quest may be tried again to get a better mask, but each vision is different and will challenge different skills. A person may only have one mask at a time.

As yet there are no rune priests or rune lords specifically of the Red School of Masks, and it is not known whether such a position is even possible. You would in effect be the priest or lord of your own personal deity who happens to be yourself. There are supposedly members who have undertaken difficult quests in the Otherworlds to enhance the powers of their Masks, and members who have died and been reborn with the magic powers of their mask as innate special abilities, but members are vague as to who they actually are.

There are priests of other cults who have undertaken the mask quest and become initiates and they have senior positions in the Temple of the Wandering Moon for what it is worth, since trying to organise the Loonies is like juggling cats in a room full of rocking chairs. Most notable are:

  • Mama Jaga, a Jakaleel Witch, who has some clout with fellow Jakaleel cultists within the school as she is their Coven-Mistress. She sees the School as a good way of increasing the numerical strength of her coven, though the quality of the new recruits often leaves much to be desired.
Mama Jaga's Mask

  • Yoros the Quiet, a minor sorcerer of the Irin School who has been making a bit of a name for himself fighting the nastier manifestations of Chaos in Pavis County with his band of somewhat more sober and sensible Loonies, and thus doing a lot to improve the reputation of the cult and Lunars in general with the Sartarite population. Mama Yaga hates him, a crusading sorcerous prig who thinks he's a tough guy because he beats up on a few snivelling broo. Yoros wants to find and slay Bleb the Talking Filth (see below) but his little band wouldn't make it a mile into the Chaos Marsh, he needs an army.
  • Zanzar Wahanzar the Spinning Man – a proper shaman of Waha who devotes himself to continual dancing and who knows the rites of many Praxian great spirits. Spouts blood curdling prophecies at anyone who will listen and repeatedly goes on vision quests to learn more. Other Praxian shamen respect him as an undoubted master of their craft, but few are keen on following his example and trying to tame the spirits of the moon as they have obviously driven him nuts. Too involved in his own efforts to divine the future to be an actual leader of the Loonies, though he puts on some wicked dance, drum and drug shindigs that have helped plenty of lay members have visions to find their own mask.
The Mask of Bleb

  • Bleb the Talking Filth – Bleb was a missionary priest of Etyries called Arikanthus who joined the Loonies as a way of understanding the shamanic mindset and whose first vision quest went badly wrong and turned him into a Gorp. He made it on his second try and now supposedly lives in the Chaos Marshes south of the Block, an amorphous acidic blob who created his own mask by etching a slab of bronze into beautiful androgynous human face stained with multicoloured corrosion. He is utterly mad in all kinds of interesting ways and his broo followers bring captured humans to him to be harangued in unknowable divine languages mixed with Tradetalk expletives, salacious gossip and really obscure and dark prophecies. A couple of Loonies at Moonbroth have met him and bear the physical and mental scars, lucky that Bleb decided to let them loose to spread his disjointed words rather than let his followers fuck and eat them.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Charelle, the Happy Planet

Been trying to fill in a few of the gaps in the Aquila Sector for my Known Space homebrew Traveller setting. 


Aquila 071 B 966 517 6 Agricultural, Garden, Non-Industrial

Charelle is a pleasant world, warm and temperate, with a thriving native ecosystem and a growing population. Unfortunately local law stipulates that no-one may leave the starport and no inhabitant may leave the planet without government permission.

Charelle might be called a psychiatric dictatorship. The founders, Robert and Cynthia Charelle, were psychiatrists from the USA on Earth who migrated to Aquila and gathered a cult-like following for their unconventional theories on mental health, moving on to found the colony of Charelle around eighty years ago. To become a colonist one must undergo a battery of psychometric tests and a month long stay in their assessment centre and sign an impressive wad of legal documents committing them to stay on the planet for at least ten years.

For PCs determined to get in the base pass roll is 12+

Add all stat modifiers (the Charellites say their tests are purely psychological, but they currently havent got the resources to look after the potentially unhealthy)
+1 per level of skill in Diplomacy, Carouse and Jack of all Trades (they like sociability and self-reliance),
-2 per level of skill in Deception (they really are good at spotting wrong'uns),
+2 per level in Social Science (Psychology) (the tests are supposed to be unbiased, but if you have a basic knowledge of psychology you will know what answers they are looking for),
+2 if a family member is already a settler,
+2 if aged under 30, +1 if under 40. 

+1 if named Robert or Cynthia
+2 if named David or Davinia
+1 if member of a religion
-3 if formerly worked in Marketing or Human Resources
Automatic acceptance if former Scientologist

Those with any cybernetic or biological enhancement, including New Men and Hobbits, are automatically barred, and those with a criminal record have -1 to -10 penalty depending on severity of the crime.

The tests are, it is claimed, to measure sociability, community-mindedness, intelligence, honesty and integrity. They have a nice colony here, a utopia of specially chosen kind and considerate people, they don't want any flies in their ointment. Once beyond the confines of the starport, it is indeed pleasant. A bit primitive maybe - information technology is restricted to administrators only, communication is by wired telephone, transport is by electric light railway and the odd internal combustion truck, entertainment is team sports, barn dances and a two hour per night radio broadcast and electricity is unfortunately rationed until they can get the hydroelectric dam project sorted. It is all rather reminiscent of the 1950's as seen by Norman Rockwell, with a bit of idealised Soviet collective farm as seen in a Pravda article.

Everyone sees a psychiatrist once a week for a private session and council meetings are essentially group therapy. Freedom of religion is respected up to a point - there are Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples etc. but all the clergy are trained psychiatrists and paid by the state. The state keeps extensive records of sessions and permission to vote is only allowed to those who, in their opinion, have shown good judgement and intelligence, and even then the Clinical Council, the ultimate authority on the planet, is made up of psychiatrists selected on merit by their peers.

The selection process weeds out most potential malcontents, but those having difficulty fitting in are offered alternative jobs and a move of settlement based on their psychometric test results. There is a prison out in the woods, but it is a pretty mild place, more a therapeutic community where inmates can work out their issues or even set up a cabin alone in the wilds to meditate upon their problems.

If none of this works inside the ten year minimum stay then the person is asked to leave, passage is booked on a passing merchant vessel and they are let go, but in the last decade only three people have left in this way. The Charellites are obviously pretty good at persuading people to conform.

People with a long track record of loyalty and stability can be given permission to work in the starport (situated on an island) and deal with the selfish, awkward and frankly pretty barmy outsiders. It is not an assignment most Charellites relish, but someone has to do it. They may also be given a leave of absence to go to another planet on business - the Charelle Institute still has branch offices in the colonies of Aquila which need staffing.

For a supposedly peace loving people the Charellites can be pretty militaristic. Everyone over 18 has mandatory militia training, and 1 in 20 of the 60,000 inhabitants is in the security service. Every settlement has an armoury where citizens can be issued with TL5 rifles and pistols if the need arises, and shotgun licences are easy to obtain for those on frontier farms where wild animals may roam onto their property. Target shooting is a popular sport, though actively hunting the local wildlife is discouraged. The security services have TL7 assault rifles and TL8 stunclubs, have some rather rickety APCs and operate a few TL9 system defence boats and armed shuttles.

The greatest fear of the Charellites is that another colony will be set up on their beautiful and mostly empty planet and 'neurotic' outsiders will ruin the utopia they have tried to create. And it certainly is an enticing looking planet, a true garden world with fertile soils and a wide diversity of quasi-reptilian and crustacean fauna. The authorities know that a determined settlement effort by a well armed outside force would blow their low tech militia away and are seeking a treaty with the Aquilan League of Nations to defend them in return for land grants and an understanding that no one is to settle within the vast tracts they have claimed for themselves to expand into.

Adventure Hooks

Rumours about what the Charellites are really up to and what the colony is really about abound. Any, all or none of the following may be true-

  1. The Charellites do not 'own' the planet. There is no way a bunch of cultish kooks could afford to buy the sole exploitation rights to a planet this large and desirable. If you trace back through the web of front companies and trusts the place is in fact owned by the US government and a consortium of American and Swiss pharmaceutical firms. Cynthia Charelle worked in a lab for Jewell GmbH on psychotropic drugs, and though the Charellite shrinks claim to use no more than the odd sedative or mild anti-depressant they are in fact drugging the whole population up to their eyeballs in a nefarious chemo-control scheme the US government is intending to roll out back home. Do not drink anything in that fancy starport of theirs, bring your own water and beer.
  2. It's psionics dummy! Bob Charelle investigated the claims of those Psionic Institute frauds back when he was a lecturer in Psychology and Sociology at Le Grand Ecole Polytechnique d'Aquila, and while the official report said they were talking bollocks, Bob saw they were onto something. The Charelle Institute is running a long term breeding/indoctrination programme to create real actual psychics! Some of those psychiatrists can really, genuinely read your mind! Think only happy thoughts while visiting, or the fuckers will take you that camp in the woods and wipe your mind.
  3. Those Charellites seem such nice folks, cheerful, straight talking and honest to a fault, but they have some dark, dark secrets. They are paranoid. They have this huge planet they only occupy a few dozen square miles of, yet I hear they refused to let a bunch of refugees from the Orphean War in to set up a camp in a spot well out of their way, other side of the planet even. The Orpheans landed anyway and over the next few weeks the Charellites shot down their ship and hunted them down.
  4. The Chinese are going to rub them out sooner or later. The planet isn't theirs, the original survey was by a Chinese State Planetological expedition and the Charellites are mere squatters. The Chinese are overstretched as it is and currently the farthest colony they are seriously investing in is on St Anne which has more easily exploitable minerals. But one shipload of marines and these wallies are toast, and it will come.
  5. The Clinical Council has gone the same way as all self-perpetuating oligarchies, with internal factionalism, corruption and official ideology a mere stick to beat each other with. Know a guy who took a high mucky-muck psychiatrist or two off world secretly, there had been an internal coup or some such and they had to leave before they got shot or reprogrammed. There's a real issue with introverts, people scoring low on the EI scale are sent off to out of the way projects like the hydro-electric dam, the ruling faction on the council don't trust them. But someone out there is giving them extra militia training.
  6. It's the local fauna you got to look out for. There's ruins in the forests, real lost cities. The official line is that there was a failed colonising attempt, some Argentinian squatters who lacked the numbers, equipment and support to become self-sufficient. But though they aren't marked on any map you can see big lines and patterns from orbit, hundreds of miles across. There was an alien civilisation here, and the holiday camp they send their maladjusted folks to is in the middle of it. What wierd alien tech have they uncovered to use on them eh? What became of those aliens? Still there, degenerated into something innocuous looking maybe, but wanting these squishy human interlopers gone...
  7. One thing the Charellites won't tell you is that they believe in the Quantity Theory of Insanity. According to this, in any human society there will always be a certain amount of insanity, usually spread wide and shallow in the form of minor hang-ups and neuroses. The Charellite system is to off load all of this insanity on a few individual scapegoats who become deeply screwed up. The 'therapeutic community' they show you in the brochures is a sham, there's some very disturbed and dangerous psychopaths and paranoid schizophrenics, made that way by Charellite social manipulation supposedly to ease the burden of neurosis on the others, and they are kept in a very high security installation. The first inmate was Robert and Cynthia's own son, David, deliberately driven crazy by his own parents in the name of this wonky theory, and for traditional reasons any settler named David or Davinia is singled out for the same treatment.
  8. Being very into psychiatry the Charellites are seen as Engrams incarnate by the Scientologists, despite the rather obvious parallels between their psychiatric sessions and their own auditing, and the Charellite aim of elimination of neurosis and going clear. The Cathedral of Scientology in New Dorset on Aquila has a special branch of Sea Org set up in the woods where they try and train Scientological fanatics to fool the psychometrics of the Charellites and infiltrate their colony to commit acts of terrorism. They are the source of most of the paranoid conspiracy theories about Charelle. For their part the Charellites see the Scientologists as massively deluded and any they catch at their assessment centre are admitted and immediately sent to the Therapeutic Community for cult deprogramming. PCs may find themselves asked to rescue Scientologists from this facility, or to infiltrate and disrupt the colony on their behalf. One hysterical conspiracy theory put about by the Scientologists is that Charelle is the home of the 'Engram Generator', and visitors to the world are mentally poisoned with infectious psychological memes designed to suppress or even kill their Inner Thetan. Outsiders listen to this with the appropriate degree of scepticism.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

All Rockets are Haunted

Starships are bullshit. 

All that zipping about in hyperspace thumbing your nose at Einstein, playing silly buggers with Dark Matter, cheeking Higgs by creating shipboard gravity with no mass, juggling all those new quarks*, kicking Heisenberg in the nuts by disassembling your spaceship into particles and reassembling it hadron by hadron with no help from Maxwell’s demons, folding, warping and ironing space-time like you are an effing black belt in eleven dimensional origami, all serious bull.

You just can’t do that and expect everything to go swimmingly. Sod about with reality and you get unreality, and when things get unreal all kinds of worms chew their way out of the cosmic woodwork. All rockets are haunted, all spacers have a tale or two to tell about stuff that shouldn’t happen and if you believe the starport bar hype ghost ships outnumber the living ones by ten to one.

*Dark, Light, Jale, Ulfire, This, That and the Other (the Vague quark is still kind of theoretical)

All page references are for the Mongoose Traveller Pocket Rulebook.

The Ghost Nebula, photo by NASA

Starship Hauntings

All starships in Known Space acquire quirks that violate the laws of physics, a consequence of violations they themselves commit by merely existing. In the Traveller rulebook starships acquire one technical oddity per ten years as per the table on p136. Replace it with this one.


1d6% of the ship per warp number has been fractally rearranged on a macro scale. Appears normal while in warp, but reverts to rearranged state on re-entry to normal space. Usual functionality of inorganic components is strangely unimpaired, though impossible to fix if they go wrong. Organic material (ie crew) present when the rearrangement takes place is utterly jiggered, but may return to apparent normality when jump space is re-entered, if they are in the rearranged space. On the next return to normal space the affected organics are rearranged wherever they may be, and if they are not in this area that gets terminally messy. A number of ships have hermit crew members trapped in this situation, only properly alive during warp.
Unusually finicky warp drive, needs to be 1d10 (exploding) % further away from a gravity source to engage without causing a misjump and internal gravity must be disengaged when entering or leaving warp. Can be lived with, but warp drive can be replaced to avoid this issue.
Screaming Reactionless Drive. Unusual high pitched or ultrasonic noises come from the reactionless (maneuver) drive when in operation, usually very quiet but occasionally ear piercingly loud. No detectable vibration from any moving parts. Nervous engineers claim that the noises are some kind of language, really batshit ones say they are the howls of dark matter life-forms as they are called into existence and ejected as exhaust gases. Soundproofing does help.
‘Poltergeist’, or at least a transient and mobile anomaly in the internal gravity field. Crew may feel momentarily heavier or lighter, or gravity may even temporarily reverse or change vector so that walking down a corridor feels like going uphill. Stuff falls off shelves once in a while and spilt liquids may form tiny whirlpools. Replacing all the grav plates has only a temporary effect.
Temperature anomaly. Transient and mobile increases and decreases in temperature wander around the ship while in warp. Internal life support can compensate to some extent, but sudden sweats and chills of a few seconds can still be felt.
As Trav table.
As Trav table, but ‘Luxurious starship’ mysteriously cleans itself up when no-one is looking. May be helpful pixies, may be reversion of matter to a more ordered state in violation of the laws of thermodynamics, whatever, Stewards love it.
As Trav table, but ‘erroneous library data’ comes from a different time period. Entries in the Devangari alphabet dated ‘in the four thousandth year of the Treta Yuga’ for example, or from sometime in the next millennium written in Third Order Sinesperanto.
As Trav table, but ‘psionic echoes’ are merely real echoes in confined spaces where there really shouldn’t be any. Shouting into the broom cupboard sounds like shouting into a cathedral.
- 1 DM to all sensor checks. Sensors show ghost ships once in a while, or disconcertingly pick the wrong four dimensions out the eleven to display their results. The resulting images may resemble the innards of a giant lifeform, or passing space krakens or just squiggles.
-1 DM to all repair attempts, may just be old and knackered components, engineers claim it really is gremlins and/or control subroutines with malevolent AI sentience
Increase maintenance cost by 50%. Entropy is strong in this ship, or the gremlins are doing overtime, or the crew are just untidy buggers who put used ration packaging behind bulkheads and have attracted cockroaches with the urge to tinker.
-1 structure. Something went wrong with the warp field at some point and the frame is now recrystallised in nanometer scale fractal baroque.
Damaged thrusters, -1 to all Pilot checks. On bad days the dark matter backwashes over the hull leaving it slightly magnetised, squamous, spicluated and tenebrous.
As Trav table, but data as per entry 11 is present. This data may actually be useful and true, if you can translate and decode it. The dodgy data tends to disappear and reappear randomly with each warp however, and while you might print it or write it down as hard copy, the hard copy changes too wherever in the universe it may be.
As Trav table, but ‘improved computer’ secretly has a mild case of the AIs and its own agenda, and the improved sensors appear to be receiving in some exotic variety of radiation otherwise unknown.
Time dilation. Internal ship time moves 1d6% faster per warp number when in warp making trips subjectively shorter.
Mass dilation. Ship is 1d6% heavier, reducing effectiveness of drives.
Internal space/time warp. Corridors and rooms change size. Not visibly, or obviously, but it can be an awfully long walk to the head from time to time and you may wake up in a stateroom the size of a hangar or a cupboard. Crew subject to frequent deja vu and Jamais vu hallucinations.
Doppleganger ship. Sensors frequently indicate vessel on same course at limits of sensor range, exactly the same model, transponder code etc as own vessel. Attempted communication results in short circuit as comms officer finds he is talking to himself with a slight radio delay due to distance. Some reports tell of the Doppleganger appearing ever closer, no one knows what happens if the two ships ever meet.
Ghost crew member. Glimpses of the spook are seen out of the corner of your eye, footsteps heard, doors open etc, but nothing ever shows up on internal cameras or recordings, nor via Ouija board. Will carry out repairs/pilot/clean up and the like when no one is looking, some captains even try and schedule them duties on the roster. May or may not be deceased former crew, some are alleged to be ‘Grey’ humanoid aliens, others are allegedly pur black or pure white cats. Only present while in warp space.

Space-time Anomalies

Investigations into these phenomena by warp physicists (a neurotic breed since they spend their lives dealing with this shit) have shown that space/time is permanently altered every time a ship enters or leaves warp space. Fortunately space is pretty big, and your chances of flying through one of these areas of dubious physics is slim, but they do move and they are becoming very common in well travelled areas. The Earth system now has millions and belated attempts are being made to map them after they allegedly caused a few hair raising incidents, but with dozens more being created every week and their widely varying manifestation and detectability this is probably futile.

When rolling for encounters in space on the table on p 139 or the Traveller rulebook a roll of 71 or 83 has a 50% chance of being a space anomaly.


Dead Space. Ship ‘becalmed’ in lightless void for a period of time, no sensor input, drives make no difference. Roll 2d6  - 2-8 Minutes, 9 hours, 10 days, 11 weeks, 12 years, roll 1d6 (exploding) for units of time.
Temporal anomaly. Ship time subjectively speeds up (50%) or slows (50%) by 50%. Crew see this as a sudden speeding up or slowing down of the passage of the ship through space. Lasts 1d6 hours.
Doppleganger ship appears displaced from vessel 1d6 hours ahead on course, lasts 1d6 hours.
Large gravitational anomaly passes through ship in a wave from bow to stern doubling mass of anything within it by two then halving it a moment later with a random vector (ie everything may suddenly slam into the ceiling, roll ‘downhill’, be stuck to the floor). Several may be encountered in succession resulting in a rollercoaster effect.
Radio anomaly. Comms traffic suddenly changes to a different, possibly past, possibly future language, Space Traffic Control certainly sounds funny in ancient Akkadian.
Dark Matter plume. Scars hull with random recrystallisation of metals and ceramics, passes through ship as a 1d6m radius temperature (1-3), gravitational (4-5) or radiation (6) anomaly. Counts as an armour hit, and radiation as a crew hit.
Electromagnetic anomaly. Affects all ship systems, -1 DM to all Sensors, Comms, Pilot and Gunnery rolls until repaired. Reduces Computer rating by 1 unless shielded.
Acoustic anomaly. All sounds on the ship are muffled and echo as if in a vast cave. Sounds of distant screaming from Reactionless drive, all crew affected by sudden migraine/vertigo/epilepsy, lose 1d3 Int, regained at 1/day.
Gremlin. Series of 1d6 (exploding) internal hits to ship systems, happening at intervals of 1d6x5 minutes. Successful Computer rolls modified by Int can deactivate the suddenly rebellious ship subroutines after each hit.
Involuntary warp entry. Does 1 hit to warp engine, sudden acceleration to trans-light speed. A very quick de-warp will at least eject you back into real space in the same system.
Naked singularity, Does 3d6 damage, with a successful Pilot roll reduced to 2d6.

In Warp, no-one can hear you gibber (usually)

The ultimate nightmare is a malfunctioning warp drive. A ‘misjump’ result on the table on p 141 of the Traveller rulebook will result in one of the following interesting ways to die (or at least have your starship expensively fucked up).


Screaming death. By some horrible accident your ship is caught up in the dark matter intake of somebody elses R-Drive. Entire vessel and contents slowly squished into an R-Drive reaction chamber and ejected as exhaust material. Can make an emergency warp exit, but not before 1d100% of the vessel has been disintegrated.
Knocking from outside of ship during entire journey. Intermittent loud thumps reverberate through entire vessel from unknown source doing 1d6 external hits per week in warp. Sensors show nothing, if functional, and exiting the vessel during warp is not advised in any circumstance as the warp bubble rarely extends more than than a couple of inches from the hull. When back in normal space hull shows spiculation, squamation and tenebration in peculiar spiral patterns.
Temperature anomaly. While in warp space temperature rapidly drops. Lose 10 degrees Kelvin in the first day, 75% chance of losing another 10 degrees K next day and so on until temperature stops falling and stabilises or everyone freezes to death. Roll Engineer skill to get a ‘soft’ exit from warp if needed, otherwise a ‘hard’ exit causing 1 hit to warp drive, roll d6 on 5-6 a second hit and roll again etc. On a roll of 2 on the Engineer skill ship fails to exit, warp drive still takes damage, and it may plough on through warp space until everything reaches absolute zero and disintegrates.
Warp exit failure. Ship rematerialises with 1d100% of its structure fucked up on a subatomic scale. All surviving crew suffer 4d6 x 50 rads. Oddly enough the rearranged matter still seems to be functional, and the ship can re-enter warp with a -4 modifier to success if the pilot and control room are intact, and the screwed up matter will be back to normal at least while in warp space. Repairs can be attempted and 1d10% per Engineer roll effect number less will be rearranged on a subsequent exit. Ship will overshoot target by several million km due to excess time spent in warp space.
Warp exit failure. Ship does not leave warp when it is supposed to and ploughs on. Cutting the fuel for a ‘hard’ exit causes 1 hit to warp drive, and roll a d6, on a 5-6 a second hit is caused, the roll again and on 5-6 it suffers a third hit and so on. Ship overshoots target by 1d6 million km, more if the crew dither.
Warp entry failure. Warp drive suffers 1 hit. Roll a d6, on a 5 or 6 it suffers a second, roll again and on a 5-6 it suffers a third and so on and so on. On a bad day this will blow up the entire ship and at the very least will result in an expensive repair.
Partial warp entry failure. The warp core warps, the ship doesn’t. Warp core is just plain gone, leaving a knot of entirely fucked-up space-time in the engine room. Roll hits on Power Plant and Reactionless Drive as above, plus 1d6 further internal hits as the drive core blasts through the ship in the form of dark matter, rearranging all the real matter it meets in a nanometer scale fractal pattern. Just hope you aren’t in its way
Deformed Warp Bubble. d100% of the ship is outside the warp bubble and does not warp, the rest does. At minimum the warp core itself warps (half tonnage of warp engine) with effects as item 8 above. Otherwise the section that warps suffers explosive decompression and if the crew survives that they must make the best of a week long trip in airless wreckage with one side open to warp space. The section that stays in normal space suffers 1 internal hit per 10% of ships mass that warped as the rest of the ship ploughs through it in the form of a dark matter wave. This is how space junk is born.
Directional screw up. Add or subtract 1d6 to the x, y and z coordinates of your supposed exit point, and you have travelled +/- 1d6 years into the past or future. If into the past then there is no chance of meeting oneself. Your past selves and ship have just disappeared while in the warp and the events of the last few years have only happened to you and will not repeat. If into the future, again the ship will have quite simply have been lost for the duration of the time gap. Chances are you will be several parsecs into deep space with insufficient fuel to get anywhere near a planet, so it is a moot point anyway.
Ghostification. One member of the crew becomes a ghost, invisible and inaudible to the rest who also forget he ever existed. Ghost ceases to exist at all when ship returns to normal space, reappearing the next time the ship enters warp. Ghost may also become temporally unbound and each return to the ship may be to some point in the vessels past or future, though if to the past he will never see himself. It is as if he never existed at all. There is a 50% chance that he may suddenly find himself as a back or white cat ghost.
Dead Space. Ship has not entered warp space but another dimension entirely, nothing outside the ship, turning drives off and on does nothing. Stuck until fuel/air/food runs out and everyone aboard dies. May rectify itself spontaneously in 1d6 (exploding) time units. Roll 2d6 2-4 hours, 5-6 days, 7-8 weeks, 9 months, 10 years, 11 decades, 12 centuries. When ship exits it is apparently in the same place it started, but galactic rotation, stellar movement etc. may have shifted the local solar system some distance away. From outside the ship has become a naked singularity and a major hazard to shipping.

And a tip of the hat to M John Harrison again for more inspiration from the Kefahuchi Tract novels. Read them!