Today, I am going to do something relatively Old School with the Traveller Sandbox Experiment campaign setting. I'm going to build a Rumor Table. Basically, I'm going to create a list of thirty-six rumors that are designed to disperse information about adventure opportunities in small bite-sized servings. Toward that end, I'll be reviewing the data of the different worlds we've already detailed, and try to come up with rumors that could lead player-characters into one or more adventures involving these worlds.
As a Referee, I use tables like this when people go out looking for the word on the street, because it takes advantage of the classic gaming cliche that characters expect to learn about the next adventure you've prepared through rumors or meeting in a bar. Players then take the tidbits they gather, decide what they want to pursue, and then they are off for adventure! Tables like this work best when they are localized, but for the sake of brevity, I'm going to create one for the entire setting to serve as an example.
Below are my thoughts on the Beta Quadrant Rumor table:
Table: Rumors Table (Beta Quadrant)
d66 Rumor Gleti Subsector 11 My cousin saw one of them "Star Vultures" from Loko rooting about at the starport, looking for something. It isn't parts he was seeking, but something specific. You know, it could mean a scavenger raid is coming if he doesn't find what he's looking for. 12 A friend of mine knows someone who's looking for some big game hunters willing to go off-world to Tefnut. Seems there's a medical facility somewhere with an abandoned load of military-grade cybernetics just waiting to be picked up, but I hear the lab animals went crazy and killed everyone. 13 I've heard that some guys claiming to be from the Sutekh Freedom Alliance, those crazy secessionists from Qetesh, have been asking around the bars lately about black market arms and military equipment. 14 There's some rich scientist on the local boards looking for a few brave souls that might be interested in acquiring a live Zumbi plant direct from the jungles of Nyame. Sure, it's a natural anagathic, but nobody would be so stupid as to try and steal it, right? 15 Ever heard of Admiral Pasha's Personal Navy, out of Bastet? Well, I just saw one of their ships out at the docks, and a friend told me they're looking to hire some "special talent". What do you think? 16 Yeah, times have been tough ever since the ship that brings in our pay misjumped, and we had to wait a month for the cash to come in. No one knows where it went, and all the money on board, but a friend of mine working at the starport has been reading sensor reports, and thinks it ended up in the same system as that prison planet, Thoth. He's trying to find a starship willing to go into interdicted space to find it, but he hasn't been very lucky lately. 21 Some scientists from the University of Sutekh got stranded out here, and are looking for a ship to carry them home. They've got some hazardous cargo, I hear, and none of the bigger companies will touch it. Koyane Subsector 22 There's some guy hitting the bars in Startown, claiming to be a bounty hunter after one of those fancy Brothers of Sakari he thought was hiding here. Why would one of those psionic terrorists want to hide here, of all places? 23 If you want my opinion, asking to find a member of the Koga Clan is just asking for death. There's some business guy at the Explorer's Society trying to find one of those bloody assassins, but he isn't saying why. I bet the guy's dead by tomorrow. 24 A friend of mine swears that there's a Slaver from Fujin here, trying to sell pleasure slaves on the black market to the highest bidder. What I wouldn't give to see one of them live and up close! The girls, I mean, not the Slaver. Jeesh! 25 Have you ever heard of the ruins of Mirasen? Neither had I, but if you think you can parley with a bunch of crazy cannibals, there's a guy looking to recover some artifacts or something from there. 26 Word on the street is that those guys from Amida are having some problems with their food supplies. They are looking for some troubleshooters to investigate and deal with the problem, and are willing to pay well for it. 31 I'm not fond of those furry little Thulians, but it's amazing how much they'll pay to go to that Ksitigarbha Institute on Jizo. Strange thing is, there's a group of them now at the starport that want to charter a starship for parts unknown. 32 Those Emishi Faction reps are looking for another team to hit Prishiboro for some secret project of theirs. I don't know what happened to the last team they sent in, but the money just keeps getting better. Litha Subsector 33 According to my friend, there was some CEO-type living it up at the Explorer's Society Club, dropping money like mad looking to find someone who'd go to Pakhet and recover a stolen starship for him. 34 You aren't going to believe this! Some old spacer, claiming to be one of the Pirate King Mudhava's original crew, has an honest-to-goodness treasure map, and is looking for some treasure hunters to go in with him in search of Captain Mudhava's Lost Treasure near that old pirate base on Mudhava. What a hoot! 35 The Sadyra Syndicate looks to be investigating locations, maybe to put up a new casino in this system. Think you can find out what they're doing here? Might be a job in it for me, if you catch my drift. 36 Sad what happened on Mawu. Ever since that reactor started leaking near the starport, they've been losing a lot of business to their system, and they can't figure out why it keeps breaking down after repairs. I hear they're looking for only the best Engineers to fix it once and for all. 41 I hear that there's been some Moldandan Holy Crusaders sighted in the system. They say that they're here to negotiate for life support supplies, but they've been known to take what they want by force if they don't get their way. 42 I've got a lead on a hot-shot noble here who wants himself some live Uturusk calves to be shipped in from Desa, probably for one of his "big social events." Know anybody who doesn't mind working in sandstorms? 43 It amazes me that unemployment is so high on Litha, and yet there's a recruiter over at the starport looking to hire talented engineers in the field of gravitics. Why don't they just hire locally, since there are so many specialists that are already there? Tabaldak Subsector 44 Looks like a reconnaissance scout belonging to the Star Emperor of Djinn docked this morning, and is meeting with the planetary leaders here. Maybe they're offering them a chance to surrender before attacking. Either way, I think I need to get off this rock. 45 One of those Abubakar Complex "privateers" from Mantis just brought in a "salvaged" ship to sell. I'd suggest you be careful if you are planning on heading off-world any time soon, in case they're waiting to "salvage" another ship. 46 One of the mining companies from Gamab has tracked raiders to this system, and is looking to hire some brave souls to recover their stolen gold. Interested? 51 Someone's looking to charter a ship to grab a few cargo containers of wine and other luxury foods from Tesla. Sounds potentially lucrative, as the guy wants it to be an "unofficial" visit. 52 Seems like there's a corporate exec interviewing "special investigators" interested in work on Umikeo. My guess is that someone's trying to find a way in with one of the governments there, to get a bite of the radioactive exports market they got going on. 53 Be careful with your lives, as well as your credits, around that merchant from Lutasas. He's looking for some new crew, and I hear that the Trade Union there turns a blind eye to press-ganging. 54 Ah, the famous spices of Milamapar! That reminds me. There's a guy trying to set up a new trade route to bring those spices here, and he's looking for some help to get it set up. Beta Quadrant 55 I hear that the Five Families on Zinsu are looking for mercenaries to protect their humanitarian operations when they go into war zones. They're hiring almost everyone who can handle a gun, they say. 56 Looks like the Factor of Malsumis is hiring more guns. They're building up quite an army and I hear the pay is pretty damn good. 61 I've heard that the Navy's seen some of those Star Raiders from Haligan in the system, but doesn't want anyone to know so as to not incite panic. Still, there's an old Captain who has heard the same, and he's out for vengeance. He's trying to gather up some mercs and starships to go hit them hard. 62 You didn't hear this from me, but I hear there's an agent of the Factor of Malsumis in Startown hiring a ship and crew. I hear that she's interested in Progenitor sites. Do you think she's coming here to try and find one? 63 There's a Haligan trader in port today, and he's holding an auction to sell goods to the highest bidder. I bet you that some of that, if not all, was stolen by the Star Raiders. 64 There's an investigative reporter looking into the Five Families, and I hear he's needing someone with, ummm, "technical" expertise. Know anyone I can recommend? 65 I hear there's a trader from way rimward, maybe even the Heremod Unity, over in Startown buying drinks for starship crews. All he wants is interesting trading tips on local worlds in exchange. You coming? 66 Oh my! Someone's gone far afield, now. Seems there's a bounty hunter in port seeking a war criminal from the Asuran Hegemony, and he's offering a reward for anyone with information that leads to the guy's capture.
Each one of the above should contain the seed of an adventure that you can use to take adventurers off into all kinds of trouble in the Beta Quadrant. Even if they don't pursue the rumor, there's still information about worlds that will sink in. It helps to create a fuller conception of the campaign setting, which increases immersion.
Next on the list of activities, I will create the next piece of supporting game mechanics: a Beta Quadrant Patron Encounter. However, before I do that, I probably should go into my thoughts on how Traveller Patron Encounters should be written.