In any Traveller campaign, no major system exists without some kind of obstacle or challenge facing its citizens, and more importantly, visitors to that star system. In identifying at least one obstacle for any given star system, the Referee continues to create an impression of the system that makes it stand out in the players' minds over the course of the campaign. In addition, knowing the challenges present in a given system also gives us inspiration for potential adventure opportunities, which encourages more entertaining gaming for our gamers.
With a nod to the City and Town Obstacles table in An Echo Resounding, I offer the following table for determining System Challenges. As before, I've included what I believe are common Traveller tropes for system functions, based on character creation rules and world generation system elements. However, your Traveller Universe may be different from mine regarding those underlying assumptions. If you come across an entry that doesn't seem to fit your needs, please feel free to change it for your own personal setting development.
The usual disclaimers exist here: Some results require specific Trade Codes in order to fit the world in question, while others cannot exist on worlds with certain Trade Codes. Likewise, some require the presence of a specific type of base or starport, or perhaps the lack thereof. Ultimately, if you feel the description doesn't fit the UWP, then feel free to generate another System Function.
Table: System Challenges
d66 System Challenges 11 Alien Invasion 12 Angry Rioters 13 Class Hatred 14 Code Duello 15 Corporate Interests 16 Corrupt Leadership 21 Crime Syndicate 22 Crushed Spirits 23 Destructive Customs 24 Diplomatic Tensions 25 Displaced People 26 Divisive Factions 31 Enemy Terrorists 32 Enigmatic Conspiracy 33 Excessive Taxes 34 Extreme Censorship 35 Food Shortages 36 Gathering Refugees 41 Global Epidemic 42 Hidden Evil 43 Homeless Poor 44 Industrial Mishap 45 Inter-Species Feuding 46 Invasive Psionics 51 Natural Disasters 52 Overly Aggressive Military 53 Pirate Haven 54 Raiding Offworlders 55 Rampant Xenophobia 56 Religious Zealots 61 Resistance Fighters 62 Secret Society 63 Spy Network 64 Unscrupulous Merchants 65 Varmint Infestation 66 Referee's Option (Unusual Obstacles)
Using the table above, I generated three possible System Challenges, one each for the three cultural hubs we have been using as examples.
For Jengu (2407 A79A89C-B Amber Zone), I rolled "Rampant Xenophobia". This is an interesting twist. Here's a star system based on a secret society devoted to healing and medicine, whose entire economy is based on the health industry, and yet a lot of the local population experience xenophobia. A holdover from the days of their foundation, many Jengu citizens were raised with the belief that offworlders do not understand their society and will even persecute Jengu given the chance, so the Jengu citizenry are taught by the world government that offworlders mean them harm and can never be trusted.
Interestingly, I generated "Invasive Psionics" for Koyane (2706 A5699EF-B Amber Zone). Relating this back to the Psionic Freedom Fighters concept, perhaps the world of Koyane has become psionophobic. While the use of psionics is not what's invasive in this interpretation, the sheer cultural paranoia about psionics is. Any unexplained situation, serendipitous success or similar occurrence could spark a "witch hunt" mentality as the "victim" accuses the unsuspecting offworlder of being a psionic.
I first generated "Pirate Haven" for Sutekh (1707 AADA846-B). I'm not that fond of a world known for academia being seen as a haven for pirates, so I chose to generate another entry here. This tim, I came up with "Natural Disasters." Now, I'm getting some great ideas. Perhaps Sutekh is going through an Ice Age of sorts, or better yet, the planet's tectonics have become unstable. Yes, that sounds good. Scientists predict that the recent increase in natural disasters within the last century are a precursor to a dramatic global event that will dramatically change the face of the planet. Skeptics denounce the cataclysmic predictions of the scientific community, claiming that the disasters are part of a minor geologic cycle and nothing more. Basically, the Referee can insert the plot of every bad SyFy Channel end-of-the-world disaster flick here.
With this step, the Cultural Hubs section is pretty much complete. I'll follow this post up with a formal write-up of the three worlds in question, and then we'll move on to designating Resource worlds. Given that this setting is likely to have a military aspect to it, these should be very interesting, indeed.