In order for an Exploration Site to be useful in terms of gaming, it must have something of value that attracts attention from patrons, who will then hire the player-characters to recover that valuable thing. In many Traveller Universes, these valuables are often Ancient artifacts, weapons, starships or information. I like all of those, but I also think there are other items of value that could draw the attention of a patron or even a player-character.
Inspired by the Ruin Traits table in An Echo Resounding, I offer the following table for determining Exploration Site Traits. As always, please note that it contains what I believe are common Traveller tropes for exploration site traits, based on character creation rules and other system elements found in the core rulebook. 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 Traits
d66 Exploration Site Trait 11 Abandoned Equipment 12 Advanced Technology 13 Ancient Artifacts 14 Artificial Intelligence 15 Biomedical Technology 16 Communication Tower 21 Damning Evidence 22 Deserted Facility 23 Diaspora Relics 24 Exotic Livestock 25 Experimental Equipment 26 Hidden Treasures 31 Imprisoned Aliens 32 Inspiring Artwork 33 Legal Documents 34 Life Support Systems 35 Lost Heirs 36 Luxury Goods 41 Military Equipment 42 Military Records 43 Operational Battlestation 44 Power Source 45 Psionic Techniques 46 Rich Resources 51 Sacred Reliquary 52 Scientific Research 53 Survival Cache 54 Symbol of Sovereignty 55 Top Secret Reports 56 Treasure Map 61 Unclaimed Spaceport 62 Unusual Starship 63 Useful Location 64 Weapons Cache 65 Willing Recruits 66 Referee's Choice (Unusual Valuable)
Using the table above, I generated three site traits, one each for the three Exploration Sites we're using as examples. Here's what I came up with:
For Mudhava (Segin 2414 E526330-6), I rolled "Scientific Research". This may seem a little strange on a Pirate Base, but let's see what we can come up with. Perhaps the leader of the Pirate community held a strong desire for a cure to a rare but lethal disease found on a number of the frontier worlds of Beta Quadrant, and actually supported localized medical research through raiding nearby worlds in order to get that cure. Although the Pirate Commander never announced success before his death, rumors abound that his researchers had come very close to a cure before their untimely death. Patrons will likely seek characters out in order to raid the Pirate Base site for the Scientific Research that the scientists had gathered.
I generated "Power Source" for Prishiboro (Segin 2810 E596568-5). At TL 5, I'm not sure that's going to be a good choice, so I roll again and get "Sacred Reliquary". Suddenly, I've got pictures in my head of Izanagi (now known as Prishiboro) being the origin of the religious cult that wiped out the psionicists on Koyane. Perhaps it was the loss of their homeworld and the sacred reliquary that motivated them to move against their psionic overlords. Patrons could easily hire characters to penetrate the depths of the city lying in ruins, hoping to seek out the sacred relics and return them to the patron. And on top of that, I've got more history for the Koyane Shogunate. Excellent!
Looking at Tajimamori (Segin 2608 X410244-8 Red Zone), I came up with "Life Support System". Okay, so we've got a Secret Base generating Electronics Disruption, and the trait about the site that makes it valuable to a patron is its Life Support System. Nah, I don't like it, so I reroll and get "Treasure Map." This is more like it! Since one might think that the advanced technology being developed at the Secret Base would be a patron's goal, let's now assume that the site, upon discovery, has been moved. Perhaps there's records that indicate where the tech has been moved to, or perhaps it isn't secret weapon technology after all, but it's research into teleportation or something like that, and the map shows where the facility's personnel have gone. The equipment left behind continues to generate the disruptions... Oh, this could go on for quite a bit. I like this result, as it gets my blood pumping with neat ideas. After a little thought, I decide that the Secret Base is researching a Progenitor portal device that opens wormholes to distant locations, like a Stargate or a Sherman Ring. Activating it has caused some torsion of the local space-time continuum, which is the source of the Electronics Disruption. One of the items used to attempt to activate it is a Progenitor star chart hologram that demonstrates vast sections of space, and several patrons want it bad for their own nefarious purposes. This carries a hint of the Zhodani Core Expedition star map artifact, so it appeals to my "Inner Traveller Canonista".
More fun is coming together behind the scenes with these details, which in turn inspires me in creating world write-ups. Still, we are not done yet. We still have one more substep in this process to go: Exploration Site Challenges. Next post, we look at these Challenges and see where that takes us.