When we talk about the concept of Lairs in a science-fiction setting such as that described in Traveller, we really can't talk about local or planetary threats, because they have almost no impact once you leave high orbit. We need to talk in terms of Interstellar Threats, those threats that impact neighboring systems. It's hard to catalog all of the possibilities that exist in many Traveller Universes, but I will at least try to hit the most common elements in my efforts below.
Inspired by the Lair Natures table in An Echo Resounding, I offer the following table for determining Interstellar Threats. As always, please note that it contains what I believe to be common Traveller tropes for interstellar threats, 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. As always, if you come across an entry that doesn't seem to fit your particular needs, please feel free to change it for your own personal setting.
Table: Interstellar Threats
d66 Interstellar Threats 11 Aggressive Privateers 12 Alien Invaders 13 Anti-Psi Cultists 14 Aspiring Megalomaniac 15 Border Outpost 16 Criminal Haven 21 Enemy Forces 22 Escaped Prisoners 23 Exiled Nobility 24 Failing Colony 25 Government Complex 26 Gypsy Camp 31 Hidden Evil 32 Hostile Mutineers 33 Interstellar Scavengers 34 Life-Hating AI 35 Mercenary Company 36 Misjumped Aliens 41 Offensive Military 42 Opportunistic Traders 43 Pirate Base 44 Progenitor Cult 45 Psi-Warrior Monastery 46 Psionic Raiders 51 Raider Compound 52 Rebel Base 53 Religious Zealots 54 Rogue Squadron 55 Secret Assassins 56 Secret Facilities 61 Slaver Compound 62 Smuggler Port 63 Space Cannibals 64 Starship Hijackers 65 Terrorist Camp 66 Referee's Choice (Unusual Threat)
Using the table above, I generated an Interstellar Threat for four (one for each subsector) of the worlds we've selected to fill this role in the Beta Quadrant setting. Here's what I came up with:
For the world of Aseramachi (Segin 2214 C300678-8), I generated "Religious Zealots" as an Interstellar Threat. One of the individual governments on the balkanized world of Aseramachi is now a theocracy. For a little flavor, I'm going to call the kingdom Moldanda (based on the result of a random country name generator), and the state religion becomes the Moldandan Universal Church. Here's where I have some fun. Among the major tenets of this religion is that the Moldanda people have a divine right to all things not of their world, for the universe exists simply because the original people of Moldanda were given a divine calling to serve as the Chosen Protectors of the Iridium Chasm. Using technology purchased or stolen from elsewhere, the Moldandan Universal Church strike against interstellar trader visiting the worlds of the Litha League, as well as the majority of the worlds on the short Orvil-Heujava Main, taking what they need to survive and continue their sacred duty. The other city-states of Aseramachi turn a blind eye to Moldanda's activities out of fear of reprisals from Moldanda using stolen military weaponry.
I generated "Exiled Nobility" for Bastet (Segin 1908 C558534-5), and was immediately inspired to create a political scenario. An exiled noble, a former Stellar Admiral from neighboring Seshat, has befriended the local ruling family, and operates under the blessing of their sanctuary. In exchange for some of the Admiral's "earnings", the ruler of Bastet has used his off-world influence and the right of conquest to forge a naval squadron. With his forces, the Admiral launches precise strikes at Abrakos, Sutekh and a number of other worlds.
Looking at Daruma (Segin 2605 D7CA211-A Amber Zone), I came up with the result of "Secret Assassins". For a moment, I considered rerolling, and then I realized this was the Koyane Shogunate, where secret assassins could mean Space Ninjas! Given the low number of people dwelling on Daruma, I think it's safe to say that the Koga Clan are the only inhabitants of this world, protected by its insidious atmosphere. These covert mercenaries were once hired to perform many missions for the noble families during the rule of the Fujiwara Clan, but have fallen on hard times since the Emishi Faction gained control of the Shogunate. This has forced them to attack outlying communities and interstellar traders during the worst of times, reinforcing the criminal connotations given to them by the Emishi Faction media. In the Shogunate entertainment field, it is currently popular to portray powerful enemies of the heroes of holovid tales as having access to the Black Ships of the Koga Clan.
For the world of Djinn (Segin 3212 C658311-9), I rolled "Space Cannibals". I looked the world stats over, and thought about a medium-sized Garden world with nine thousand people on it. Why would they have a band of man-eating crazies striking out against ships in other systems when they have a Garden world to exploit? The lack of a taint in the atmosphere removed the thought of me stealing the Reavers concept from the Firefly/Serenity universe. With reluctance, I decided to roll again, and this time I generated the "Aspiring Megalomaniac" result. This suggests that the local warlord, having conquered the planetary settlement or colony based on Djinn, is now seeking to expand his territory to other worlds. He already has a significant interstellar Navy built up (due to the Naval and Scout bases present), and the Koyane Shogunate maintains a Consulate on the world. The Shogunate use their Consulate to secretly monitor the activity of polities further rimward, and fully intend to let Djinn serve as a buffer should the Heremod Unity from Delta Quadrant decide to expand coreward toward the Shogunate.
In my next post, I'll start writing up each of these worlds and creating some Encounter Scenarios. These posts will look a little different, but I think that they will add a lot to our ability to use the information for adventure creation once the game begins.