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RPGaDay 2019 – Lost

22/08/2019
Lost in Space

Imagine this scenario: You’re mid-jump between two systems when your jump drive fails. You come to a halt in deep space, light years away from help. What do you do? What caused your drive to fail? Is it repairable?

If you’re confused, remember that I never said jump drive travel was completely free of risks. Like other forms of FTL travel in science fiction, there’s always a chance something could go wrong. This doesn’t mean players or the GM should roll dice every time a jump takes place. Instead, it’s there for GMs to challenge the players or have them end up somewhere unexpected.

Attention should also be paid to how players treat their ship. If they skimp on repairing battle damage, you might want to throw some more errors their way. They’ll learn to look after their ship, just like people would in real life.

For an extra bit of fun, you could make a malfunctioning drive a feature. Think of it like the TARDIS in Doctor Who, prone to sending the players on unexpected adventures.

Drive malfunctions aren’t the only reason why ships become stranded in deep space. Some raiders have access to experimental technology that disrupts jump drives within range. As you might imagine, getting into position for this to work is difficult at best. They’re also running a big risk. They could disrupt a full laden transport. They could also disrupt a heavily-armed warship.

These disruption devices are macguffins and should be limited to NPCs. There might be a situation where players need to use one, but try limiting it to very special occasions.

Once the players have repaired their drive, or defeated the raiders, what do they do next? Fortunately, jump drives have a stored list of known jump destinations. Jump drives are also equipped with proximity sensors. They detect drives at the destination and exit the jump early, avoiding collisions.

If the players aren’t able to repair their drive, they’ll need to look for the nearest habitable planet or station. This could be a major issue in deep space, so use caution when making their drive irreparable. Instead, make it an extended action with a moderate difficulty. Make it so the players all have to work together to get flying again.

That’s a couple of examples of how players can become lost and, hopefully, find their way again.

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