Every exploration site was created for a reason. In the published Traveller Universe and those inspired by it, the mysterious sites that the players get to explore are often created by sentient beings, either recently or in the great and distant past (generally speaking, the Ancients). On other occasions, they are natural structures such as cave systems that have been exploited by sentient beings for a given purpose. Aside from extensive animal lairs, I agree with that concept.
With a nod to the Ruin Natures table in An Echo Resounding, I offer the following table for determining Exploration Site Origins. Please note that it contains what I believe are common Traveller tropes for exploration site origins, based on character creation rules and other system elements found in the core rulebook, but 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.
Table: Exploration Site Origins
d66 Exploration Site Origin 11 Abandoned Colony 12 Ancient Site 13 Animal Lair 14 Arcology 15 Asteroid Ship 16 Cavern System 21 Communication Center 22 Corporate Headquarters 23 Crashed Starship 24 Foreign Consulate 25 Frontier Outpost 26 Government Facility 31 Isolated Spaceport 32 Medical Center 33 Mining Colony 34 Naval Base 35 Noble Estate 36 Outlying Settlement 41 Pirate Base 42 Planetary Defense Silo 43 Prison Complex 44 Psionic Institute 45 Religious Temple 46 Research Facility 51 Scout Base 52 Secret Base 53 Space Station 54 Temporary Encampment 55 Terraforming Plant 56 Tourist Resort 61 Trading Post 62 Training Center 63 University Campus 64 Wartorn City 65 Wildlife Preserve 66 Referee's Option (Unusual Site)
Using the table above, I generated three possible site origins, one each for the three Exploration Sites we're using as examples. (One of these is a Red Zone, so we can use that table, too.) Here are the three worlds I've chosen to explore:
Mudhava (Segin 2414 E526330-6): Starport Class E (Frontier); Medium (Low-G); Very Thin (Tainted); Wet World; Low Pop (9,000); Self-perpetuating Oligarchy; No Law; Pre-Stellar Tech. No Bases. Trade Codes: Low Pop. Non-aligned.
Prishiboro (Segin 2810 E596568-5): Starport Class E (Frontier); Medium (Low-G); Dense (Tainted); Wet World; Mod Pop (200,000); Colony/Captive World; High Law; Industrial Tech. No Bases. Trade Codes: Agricultural World, Garden World, Low Tech and Non-Industrial World. Jengu Alliance.
Tajimamori (Segin 2608 X410244-8 Red Zone): Starport Class X (Interdicted); Medium (Low-G); Trace; Desert World; Low Pop (300); Representative Democracy; Mod Law; Pre-Stellar Tech. No Bases. Trade Codes: Low Pop. Koyane Shogunate.
When considering Mudhava (Segin 2414 E526330-6), I generated "Pirate Base". Okay, we have a noble family reigning over nine thousand people, with no true laws in place regarding offworlders, at least. Perhaps the only way they survive as a colony is through trading with pirates. Although there are no bases in the UWP, I may go back and add a Pirate Base to represent the use of this system as a port of call for pirates, given their status here. A pirate base provides a great source for adventures and exploration, due to the accumulated treasures of starships and outlying colonies that could be help in storage here. Perhaps a collector could hire the party to recover a stolen item... hmmm, the seeds are already coming to me. Heck, this even suggests a nice background detail: Among interstellar pirates, Mudhava is known colloquially as "Mud Haven."
For the garden world of Prishiboro (Segin 2810 E596568-5), I rolled "Wartorn City". Noting that Prishiboro has a Government code of 6 (Colony/Captured World), this fit perfectly with the concept that perhaps this planet has recently changed hands from the Koyane Shogunate to the Jengu Alliance during the most recent war between these two polities. My imagination ran with that idea: The world of Izanagi originally belonged to the Koyane Shogunate, but after capture during the Jengu-Koyane War (or whatever I call it later), it was renamed as Prishiboro by the Jengu Alliance. (Both names come from a primary god of their pantheon, and each lost their wife, though by different means. It seemed a nice tie-in to use the two names in conjunction.) The system originally had a much larger population and a better starport, but after a planetary bombardment by the Jengu fleet, the best places to land a ship are now abandoned parking lots. The primary city was destroyed, but the ruins of the city are now scavenged by survivors of the planetary assault as well as off-world raiders. I'll likely need a good MacGuffin to bring player-characters to this world, but the opportunities for exploration look pretty good, just on this small bit alone.
For the desert planet of Tajimamori (Segin 2608 X410244-8 Red Zone), I came up with an Exploration Site Origin of "Secret Base". Because it's a Red Zone, I also came up with a reason for that status, which turned out to be "Electronics Disruption". (Okay, originally, I rolled "Wildlife Preserve" but that didn't fit the UWP.) Now I can combine those two, and come up with an idea like the following: Travel inside the system of Tajimamori is dangerous due to unusual electromagnetic-gravitic interference that disrupts unshielded and even poorly-shielded electronic systems. While the Koyane Shogunate claim that it is due to a natural phenomenon, the truth is that the system is actually a secret military base researching weapon technology, which is generating the interference. Ah, the joys of exploring a secret military base in search of advanced weapon technology brings a cackle to my lips... I mean, it prompts interest in writing a cool adventure or two for future player-characters in this setting.
Already, these three worlds are shaping up for some very interesting opportunities for exploration, but we're not done yet. We still have two more sub-steps in this process to go: Exploration Site Traits and Challenges. Next post, we look at Traits and see where that takes us.