This issue is a sathar themed issue with articles about all aspects of the sathar from vehicles and weapons, to biology and social structure.
Grab your copy any enjoy!
This issue is a sathar themed issue with articles about all aspects of the sathar from vehicles and weapons, to biology and social structure.
Grab your copy any enjoy!
This article was inspired by the July RPG Blog Carnival topic, Movers & Shakers, hosted by the In My Campaign website. Often the topics of the RPG Blog Carnival don’t really apply to sci-fi settings – like last month that was focused on the Fey – and so I don’t always have an entry.
But this month’s topic is generic enough. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think that I might make this a regular feature here on the blog – diving into a specific organization to give background and details. So you’ll probably see more material like this in the future. And while this article is focused on an organization from the “canon” Star Frontiers material, it is definitely my take on the company and could be dropped into any game system with just a bit of tweaking. This will also be true of any future organizations I detail as well.
I had originally planned to write this article last week, but decided to finish the Extended Frontier Map instead. But now it’s time to talk about the Streel Corporation.
Streel is a mega-corp in the Star Frontiers game. They are listed as the second largest mega-corp in the Frontier. As such, they can play a major role in the game if the referee desires. Personally, I use them regularly, especially if the PCs are near Truane’s Star, where they are headquartered.
The modern Streel Corporation has only existed since the end of the First Sathar War. The current company represents a reorganization and realignment of the older Streele Mining Corporation that previously existed on the planet Pale in the Truane’s Star system.
Streele Mining was formed some 170 years ago by a pair of brothers, Dixon and Truane Streele. Originally working on Gran Quivera, the brothers decided to try something bold and find a completely new world on which to work. Their endeavors in the Prenglar system were very successful and they financed the construction of a small exploration vessel, hired a crew and set off into the unknown.
In a good-natured argument about who would get to name the first system, they decided to settle it with a game of dice and Dixon won. Thus when they arrived in the star system some five lightyears northwest of Prenglar, it received the name Dixon’s Star. Unfortunately, the habitable planet in that system was very dry and hot and not particularly hospitable. Dixon decided to call it Laco because, in his words, it had a “lack o’ what they needed”.
The brothers continued to move out from Prenglar in the same general direction and after another 5 lightyear trip, came to the system now known as Truane’s Star, since he got to name the second system. There were two habitable planets in this system, the inner one was hot, humid, and had dinosaur-like creatures, plus had a really high gravity at 1.4g, not the most inviting for setting up a mining operation. The outer planet was a little on the cool side, but with lots of mountains and a 0.9g surface gravity, was much more inviting. They arrived when most of the land mass was in winter and the planet, according to Dixon, “looked a bit pale” from all the snow. Truane liked that and the planet earned its name.
They did some initial prospecting and found some viable sites but decided to return to Prenglar, resupply, and come back during the summer. Upon their return, they set up operations in a mountain valley near a large lake and called the place Point True. This initial settlement would eventually become the capitol of Pale and be the only settlement to survive the First Sathar War.
Streele mining continued to do well over the intervening decades between the original discovery and the Great Sathar War. At the time of the war, they were a large profitable company with mines all over the planet, headquartered at Point True. While not the largest company on Pale at the time of the invasion (that honor went to the Pan Galactic Corporation), they were definitely the dominant mining organization and responsible for nearly 80% of the mineral production on the planet.
When the sathar invaded, the company actively resisted the occupation, resulting in many of the upper leadership, including all of the Streele brothers’ grandchildren, being rounded up by the worms and either executed or carried off-world. The fate of many of the companies leaders are still unknown to this day.
During the sathar occupation of Point True, one of Streele’s middle managers, a yazirian named Hilo Headrow, worked diligently to help both the company and the citizens of Point True survive and deal with hardships and troubles caused by the sathar. While his methods were sometimes a bit ruthless and heavy-handed, and many likened him to a mob boss, it was hard to argue with his success, even if it sometimes went against company policy. He became somewhat of a folk hero and once the sathar were driven off, Hilo quickly rose through the remaining ranks of management to become the CEO. He rebranded the company from Streele Mining to the Streel Corporation and quickly got the company involved in a large number of reconstruction projects in a variety of different areas, not just mining and resource development, diversifying the company’s portfolio and changing it from a mining company to an organization with a wide variety of interests.
With the planet’s government mostly destroyed by the invading sathar, Streel, under Hilo’s leadership, played a major role in governing the planet right after the war. Hilo applied a very light hand in this regard and helped to quickly get the established government back up and running but with a pro-business leaning.
In the intervening decades, Streel has been a behind-the-scenes player in the planet’s government but has worked hard to establish an environmentally- and business- friendly climate that allows Streel and other businesses to flourish on the planet.
In that time, Streel has also expanded off-world and across the Frontier. It is now widely considered the second most powerful mega-corp after Pan Galactic.
Hilo Headrow has, on many occasions, publicly stated that Streel intends to claim the number one mega-corp spot from Pan Galactic. But they still have a way to go. Unlike most of the new mega-corps, which tend to specialize on a single, or at most a few, areas of interest, Streel, like Pan Galactic, is a polyglot, covering a wide and diverse range of interests, and dabbling in almost everything.
All up and down the management chain, Streel has two main objectives: increase Streel’s, wealth, power, and influence, and be the dominant player, or at least beat out Pan Galactic, in their given area. Managers and employees are given wide latitude in accomplishing those goals.
Having really come into his own fighting the sathar in Point True, Hilo has extended this aggressive and militant mindset to all of the companies business endeavors. The company is not above fighting hard and dirty to get what they want. If you are up against a Streel team, expect them to be armed, aggressive, often underhanded, and not willing to back down.
The exception to this seems to be on Pale itself. Encountering Streel agents on Pale, especially after having run afoul of them off-world, can seem like night and day. On Pale, the company strives for collaboration, philanthropy, and even support of competitors. This is a strategic decision on Hilo’s part. He cultivates the “Hero of Point True” image he earned in the war and works hard to keep the company in the good graces of the citizens and government of the planet. While reports often trickle back to Pale about aggressive Streel activities on other worlds, those reports don’t reflect the lived reality on the planet and are often ignored by the populace of Pale. Hilo, and by extension Streel, actively encourages new start-up companies realizing that if these small companies become truly innovative and profitable, they can often be bought out, thus adding their skills to Streel itself. This has happened hundreds of times over the past decades.
Streel has fingers in everything including mining, banking, research, weapons, medicines, vehicles, computers, starships, and everything in between. They are heavily involved in corporate espionage, and as mentioned, are not above using direct force to get what they want or push other organizations out of their way.
Streel is headquartered at Point True on Pale in the Truane’s Star System. Hilo Headrow is the CEO and has a small board of directors that manage the overall company.
The company has two sets of vice presidents, with orthogonal jurisdictions. The first set are the more traditional, business area vice presidents. Each of these oversee an aspect of Streel’s endeavors such as mining, starship construction, banking, etc. While a large number of these vice presidents are located on Pale, many are located on the worlds where Streel’s operations in their area are concentrated. So the VP of Banking works out of the Streel offices on Gran Quivera in Prenglar and the VP of Mining is located on Pale, while the VP agriculture is located on New Pale.
The other set are the “Planetary” vice presidents. They are effectively regional managers. Each of these VPs work and live on the planet in the Frontier where they are assigned. There is a planetary vice president for each world where Streel has an operation, which is each of the settled worlds in the Frontier at this point. While the business area VPs are responsible for the operations across the Frontier within their domain, the planetary VPs are responsible for managing and running all Streel operations on their planet of responsibility. They handle resource allocation, personnel assignments, and dispute resolution within the company and act as the liaison to the planetary government.
At the lower levels of the business, the company is organized as desired by the business area VPs to best accomplish their goals. There are large manufacturing planets, research groups, and small individual teams as needed to get the job done.
Hilo believes in taking care of his employees and Streel personnel are well paid and well taken care of. Any Streel team in the field will have good, and plenty of, equipment to do their job. Employees tend to be very loyal to the company.
Since Streel has its fingers in everything, it is possible to run into Streel employees almost anywhere. If someone in Streel management deems something important enough, they will have agents pursing that goal. Some possibilities include low level corporate espionage, a raid on an outpost or research facility, sabotage of rival operations, or maybe just running into a group of Streel employees that just got off work.
While Streel has a reputation of being hard-nosed and cutthroat, that is often more a corporate stance than the personality of any random employee. Most employees have their own individual personalities and don’t mirror the corporate image. Unless of course you run into one of the troubleshooting teams. They often live up to the stereotype and are probably its source (see my players in the “A New Can of Worms” game for an example).
Streel is currently competing against Pan Galactic for control of the planet Laco, in the Dixon’s Star system, and the Tetrarch ruins on that world. If the PC’s are in the Dixon’s Star system and especially on Laco, they can expect to see, be caught up in, or hear about clashes between Pan Galactic and Streel as the corporate war between the two companies heats up on that planet.
It may even be that the characters are approached by Streel and offered positions in the company. The pay will be good but they might be asked to do some morally questionable activities.
In writing up this description several adventure ideas came to mind:
Streel is a popular mega-corp in the game. I know of several other people who have developed and made Streel a major component of their game. They are the major antagonist in one of the published Star Frontiers modules, Mission to Alcazzar, so this isn’t really that surprising.
I’m curious to hear if you find this write-up useful and/or interesting. What additional information about an organization would make a description like this more readily usable for you at your table. Let me know and I’ll try to incorporate those aspects into future write-ups.
Okay, I had planned to do a different post this week as part of this month’s RPG blog carnival but that will have to wait. I decided instead to just push through and finish the Expanded Frontier Map instead.
If you downloaded the color player’s map from last week’s post, go back and do it again. As I was working on the final map, I found a bunch of mistakes that I completely missed while working on last week’s map. Most of them are minor, like names overlapping jump lines, but a few of them are pretty bad like names overlapping each other or running over jump distances. In any case, I’ve fixed those and uploaded new maps to the links in that article.
The only difference between this map and the previous one is that I’ve added in all the jump routes known by the sathar as well as some labels on the map that give the location of the sathar homeworld, their ten starship construction centers, and the location of their Tetrarch ruins complex similar to the one on Laco (If you are following the timeline posts, this is where the signal went out to and was returned from). I haven’t defined which of these systems are actually inhabited by sathar, I’m leaving that up to the individual referee to decide.
Let’s start by showing the black and white version of the map and then I’ll talk about how I filled it in.
As you can see, most of the sathar systems are up and to the right of the Frontier. This is the their main population center. The tendrils that surround the Frontier tend to be more outposts and travel lanes than population centers.
In addition to the jump routes marked in red, it is assumed that the sathar know all the UPF routes marked in black as well.
The routes don’t extend to the left side of the map as the sathar stopped their expansion in that direction after encountering the Rim. They were also stopped by that big nebula in the upper left. I have plans for some of the star systems up in that area on the far side of the nebula.
I consider the jump routes along the bottom of the map, from Saurian space, past Liberty, into S’esseu space, and then up to Prenglar to be newly explored routes. In fact, in the current version of my background material, the starship construction center just south of PanGal, labeled SCC#1, is still under construction and hasn’t even started producing ships yet in my timeline project.
When I first made this map back in the 80’s, I didn’t have Zeb’s Guide and obviously none of the fan material existed so this region of space looked a little different on my original map (I should probably scan that in and post it for reference). But the idea was that these routes were established to give the sathar the jump route right into Prenglar in the Second Sathar War game in the Knight Hawks Campaign book allowing them to strike at the heart of the Frontier. In creating this map, I modified my original concept to work through these modified regions of space. It also provides an opportunity for interdiction as the UPF could potentially cut off some of the Sathar routes.
The numbering on the starship construction centers may seem a little odd and requires a little bit of explanation. I originally built this map for two purposes. The first was to give me a more strategic level view to write a Second Sathar War timeline, taking into account sathar ship production as well as the UPF ship production. I wanted to see how the balance of forces would work if you stuck to the rules on ship construction. This is now being realized in my timeline project.
The other was to provide a larger Frontier region for a big exploration campaign inspired by the Beyond the Frontier series of adventures (SFKH 2-4) where the PCs would explore out from Truane’s Star upward on the map. I have had the beginnings of that campaign in a notebook for literally decades. Maybe it’s time to dust it off and use it for material here on the blog.
It’s the former purpose that resulted in the numbering of the starship construction centers. I originally had the ones labeled 1-5 dedicated to the Second Sathar War effort. They were strictly producing military vessels with which the sathar would be attacking the Frontier. And I just started at the one connected to the Prenglar jump route and numbered them counter-clockwise.
SCCs number 6-9 were added in to provide “civilian” ship construction for the sathar population and exploration away from the Frontier. They are not labeled on my original map but were added in as part of this project. The final SCC, #10, was added as part of my timeline project to provide the production capacity for the Sathar offensive against the Saurians. I’ll probably do another post about the production capabilities of all these construction centers at some point in the future.
The sathar homeworld is labeld on my original map. I had always envisioned it as a slightly cooler star than the sun with their home planet close relatively close in and warm and muggy. As such, I’ve given it a K4 spectral type on the map. Someday I might actually design and write up the system.
Now that we have the background information covered and everything else in place, it was time to make the final color version of the map.
This was done in two steps. First, I made a separate data file that had all the star systems again but instead of the jump routes known to the UPF, it contained the jump routes known only to the sathar. Using this, I generated a new map.
Since the map is generated with the jump routes on different layers, the second step was to just open the new map, and copy everything off the jumps route layer, open the Player’s map, create a new layer for the sathar jumps, and paste them in. I then had to adjust the position of all the features after pasting them in but that was just a matter of looking up the position in the original image and entering that in to the final image.
Of course, it really wasn’t that simple. The last step in adding the jumps was to adjust the color. The program makes all jumps in white. I simply changed the color to red in the final map. But that does give me an idea for an enhancement in the program, namely allowing the user to specify the link color.
The next step was to add the sathar specific labels. To do this I created a second names layer that I could add in the labels for the sathar homeworld, the starship construction centers, and the Tetrarch complex. Since the sathar jumps and labels are on separate layers, I can turn them on and off as need to make a player or referee version of the map as needed.
The final step was simply clean up. I went through the entire map and moved star labels and jump route distance labels in order to have the map as clean and clear as possible and fix and small issues the program has in drawing the labels. This is where I discovered the errors in the original version of the Player’s map and fixed them. And since the sathar names and jumps were on separate levels in the image, it was easy to re-export that map.
And that was it. The map is now done. (Unless I find some more typos as I start using it.) Here it is in all it’s glory.
Again, if you want to play with the code and make your own maps, it is written in Python and you can grab it from my GitHub repository. I’m going to continue to work on this code. This will be to add in the remaining features it’s lacking to make it more user friendly such as command-line options, the jump route colors, and creation of nebula, but those will fall under a different article title going forward. If I get really ambitious, I might even add in a GUI to make it a windowed program instead of a command line one. We’ll see. I’m curious how much interest there would be in that project.
This has been a fun project. I’ve really enjoyed doing it. As you can probably tell by the number of posts I’ve made. And I love the look of the final map. If you see any errors, feel free to let me know and I can update the map to correct them.
I think if I was doing this again, I would make the map dimensions a little different. This map was original made by taping together six sheets of graph paper (landscape orientation). while that ended up with a nearly square work area, it wasn’t quite. The map is 90 ly wide by 100 ly tall. If I were to do it again, I’d make it either perfectly square, or conform to a more standard aspect ratio.
I’m also curious if anyone would be interested in a printed, poster sized version of the map. 24×27 inches. This is actually what prompted my thoughts on the dimensions. As a purely digital product, the aspect ratio doesn’t matter. But when you try to print it, you start to run into problems. I’ve been looking at possible printing options, and while most of them want you to use a standard aspect ratio (16×24, 24×36, 12×18, or square), I have found a few that would let me print it to exact size. Final costs would be in the $15-$25 dollar range for the 24×27 inch one. If that is something that would interest you, let me know in the comments. I might do this as a small Kickstarter for those that are interested.
And that wraps up the the Extended Frontier Map project. Let me know your thoughts, ideas, and any remaining questions you have about the project and let me know if you’d like to see more things like this in the future.
Woo-hoo, we’re approaching the end of this particular project. In this update we present the final* “Player” version of the Expanded Frontier Map, both the color and black and white versions. This version just contains the systems and jump routes known by the UPF as presented in the rules, modules, and some fan content.
(* Final assuming I don’t find any typos and such)
First up, as I was generating the data for the color version of the map, I realized that there were just way too many neutron stars on the map. There’s one on the original AD map, five on the Zeb’s Guide map, and I had added in a couple dozen or so more.
One is too many for this volume of space. You might find one (anything is possible) but beyond that is really stretching it. However, since the five are in the original materials, I left them in. I also left in two of the ones I added in the lower left of the map. This puts all the neutron stars in the Frontier region and towards the Vast Expanse. Maybe there’s an explanation for that.
For all the other neutron stars, I replaced them with multiple star systems. That changed two dozen stars systems from neutron stars to multiple star systems, some with as many as five stars.
In comments on the previous update, it was pointed out that I forgot to label Mechan, the world in Zeb’s Guide where the Mechanons fled to when they left Volturnus in the Zeb’s Guide timeline. I don’t typically include that event in my games which is why I probably forgot to include it. Mechan is just up and to the right of Scree Fron on the map. That just required changing the label.
In fixing the labeling on Mechan, I also noticed that the Zeb’s Guide map adds another star 3 light years above Mechan near Capella. So I added a star in there as well.
As far as I can tell, that fixes everything.
So that gives us the new and updated black and white version of the map.
Creating the color version was mostly a matter a generating a large number of random systems and then positioning them on the map. Since I had to manually update all the positions, that took a couple hours of work to get all the data into the file and the coordinates updated.
After that, I could generate the rough map with my mapping software. The next step was to go through by hand and tweak the position all the labels that needed to be moved. There actually weren’t that many, I just had to move a few names and a few of the jump distances so that they were not overlapping any of the jump route lines. That cleaned up in just a few minutes.
The other major portion of the map was creating all the nebula. Since I had the outlines of them on the black and white map. I just copied (and scaled) those outlines to the color map. In a few places where the B&W map has little wisps of nebula next to the big ones, I connected them as the process I use to create the nebula would make those wisp-like areas.
This actually took less time than I was expecting. Since I was working zoomed out on the map, the rendering went fairly quickly. Whenever I zoomed in, however, it would take some time to redraw the screen due to all the detail in the nebula. From the earlier sample map, which was zoomed in, I had experienced a bunch of slow down and was expecting the same here. I thought I was going to have to do the nebula on a series of layers so that I could turn them off and on. That wasn’t actually necessary and this process only took a couple of hours instead of the several hours I was expecting.
The hardest part for me was picking colors. The truth is that there probably wouldn’t be any nebula in this part of space but since they look cool and were included in the original material, they are part of the map. I tried to pick colors for them based on the stars that were around as most of the nebula would be reflection nebula since none of the stars in the area put out that much ionizing radiation to cause the gas to glow on its own. I’m not completely happy with it but I like it. This is something that might get revisited at some future date.
The next step was adding in a legend. This also might get redone in the future to include each of the different stellar colors but it is good enough for now.
Finally, I decided I didn’t like the flat black background but wanted there to be a bunch of faint “distant” stars speckling the background of the image. To get that effect was pretty simple. I just applied the Textures->Cracked Glass filter to the black background layer. I’ll admit that I got lucky here and it applied the exactl level of background noise that I wanted. There are other filter combinations that would work as well but that was good for now.
With that done, I signed it and exported the final image.
The next step is to do the Sathar worlds and jump routes. Since all the stars are there, all I need to do is add in the links and update some labels. That will be the topic of the next and final (at least for a while) update.
Share you questions, comments, and impressions in the comment are below.
Here’s the next installment of the detailed Frontier Timeline.
|60.146||Strike Force Nova departs the Timeon system to return to Prenglar.|
|60.147||Saboteurs damage the CDC shipyards around Triad, reducing capacity by 27%. The initial hull of the Spacefleet battleship is completely destroyed. Work on the ship will have to be restarted once the wreckage is cleared away.|
|60.148||Ninland (Minotaur, Theseus) announces the construction of a new Volturnus themed series of attractions allowing for experiences native to that world.|
|60.149||SynthCorp unveils a line of “edible paintballs” for the dralasite youth market on Inner Reach. Bloop’s “Every Flavor” Battle Balls are launched with a massive paint ball tourney through downtown Synthtown (Inner Reach, Dramune). The only real losers are those that got tagged by the “rotten egg” flavored balls.|
|60.150||With the prospect of several new ships coming on-line in the next few years, Spacefleet starts a recruitment effort to grow its officer ranks in anticipation of staffing the new ships.|
|60.151||Loading complete, the first saurian Ark ship departs Kischen to search out a new home for the saurian race. This ship heads away from the Frontier, skirting the Vast Expanse.|
|60.152||Construction begins on the ZKKDA assault scout for the K’aken-Kar system militia.|
|60.153||CDC shipyard around Triad (Cassidine) completes initial cleanup and begins repairs. Work on the Spacefleet battleship is restarted. Construction of the CDCSS Mystic delayed as repairs to the shipyard take precedence.|
|60.154||The TTSS Destiny returns to the White Light system after visiting the Theseus system. After a brief stay it will continue its Grand Tour through the Vrusk and Dralasite loop of the Frontier.|
|60.155||Strike Force Nova returns to the Prenglar system where the ships will undergo some routine maintenance before continuing patrol. It will be in the system for 19 days.|
|60.156||Sathar starship construction center near Fromeltar completes construction of a frigate|
|60.157||Pirate frigate seized by Pale militia completes its refit and departs on its maiden cruise as a militia vessel, the TSSS Tiger, with a new crew.|
|60.158||Forty days after the hatching of the first crèche of Eorna eggs from the lost egg ship, five of the babies have passed away due to unknown illnesses. Eorna scientists are scrambling to find the cause of the deaths and prevent the loss of the other newborns.|
|60.159||The TSSS Tiger, on patrol in the outer Pale system, is set upon by a pair of unidentified assault scouts. Severely damaged, it manages to drive off one of the assault scouts after destroying the other. Other militia assets are dispatched to investigate the wreckage at the Tiger returns to port.|
|60.160||Pale starship construction center repairs bring it up to 75% capacity.|
|60.161||The TSSS Tiger returns to the Pale starship construction center where it will spend the next 19 days undergoing extensive repairs.|
|60.162||Sathar starship construction center near Zebulon completes a light cruiser|
|60.163||The Yaziria Heritage Foundation’s exploration ship, the HSS History’s Hope, completes its refit in the Hentz (Araks) starship construction center and begins its maiden voyage to Histran (Scree Fron).|
|60.164||After several weeks of investigation, the probe into the source of Ixiol has made little progress. Believed to be produced by Malco Enterprises, there is no firm evidence as several key agents have vanished while investigating in the Dramune system.|
|60.165||Several “flavors” of SynthCorp’s Bloop’s Every Flavor Battle Balls are recalled due to many reported incidents of strange side effects. While the company and MSO investigate, they remain popular and often jokingly referred to as “Missing Every Flavor” Battle Balls.|
|60.166||The Spire Dragons begin the next stage of their ascent of Mt. Spire (Lossend, Timeon) from their second advance camp halfway up the mountain.|
|60.167||News leaks of an attack against the corporate headquarters of Nesmith Enterprises of Triad (Malicon Valley, Triad, Cassidine) resulting in the theft of several advanced computer designs and system controls. NET has not made any official announcement of the incident.|
|60.168||Nesmith Enterprises of Triad releases a statement confirming the security breach and indicates that it was executed by unnamed agents of a rival mega-corp working under sathar control. The company is working with Star Law to investigate the incident. No details are given as to what technology may have been compromised.|
|60.169||The “Beyond the Frontier” committee generates its first report with two major proposals. First that Spacefleet vessels be sent to investigate the signals being received in the Gruna Garu system and second, that a Frontier Expeditionary Force be established to begin probing the systems outside the current Frontier borders.|
|60.170||Word leaks out that some of the technologies lost by the raid on Nesmith Enterprises include command and control systems used on many of the starships in the Frontier. Concerns for the security of Spacefleet and civilian vessels arise.|
|60.171||Several Interplanetary Industries computer systems across the Frontier randomly lock up and shut down disrupting manufacturing and other business processes. Eventually restored after several hours, millions of credits are lost due to lost productivity.|
|60.172||Interplanetary Industries (II) launches an investigation into the cause of the disruption to determine the cause and how best to prevent it from occurring again. Rumors indicate it was an attack by a rival mega-corp. As Nesmith Enterprises is II’s biggest rival (ZG), initial suspicion falls on them.|
|60.173||The HSS History’s Hope arrives at Histran (Scree Fron). Preparations begin for its journey into the unknown to attempt to reach the system believed to house Yaziria, the yazirian homeworld.|
|60.174||Strike Force Nova departs the Prenglar system headed to Gruna Garu on a patrol of the “yazirian” loop of the Frontier. The patrol direction is dictated by the Council of Worlds so that the Strike Force can investigate the signals being received there.|
|60.175||– The life support system on Spacefleet’s armed station orbiting Triad shuts down and locks out all access. Control is restored after several tense hours as evacuation plans are organized but ultimately not needed. |
– As this station incident seems to be related to the Nesmith Enterprises incident, Star Law doubles down on its investigation of that event quarantining the station and not allowing anyone to leave.
And here’s the PDF of the full timeline to download if you wish.
It’s been a couple of months since I wrote one of these. I missed the May one due to family vacations and other activities keeping me busy at the end of the month last month. So this report will cover the last two months.
The last couple of months have been mostly consumed by my Expanded Frontier Map project. As I’ve said before, this project has really wormed itself into my mind and taken over much of my efforts the last couple months. It also seems to be really popular with those currently reading the blog as the map posts generate the most visits of any of my posts.
The Detailed Frontier Timeline project continues apace. I missed a few days posting on Twitter and had to catch up, usually just after I got back from a trip. I scheduled the posts in advance for when I’d be gone but then always seemed to drop the ball the few days after I returned as I was trying to catch up with everything. I think in the future, I should schedule posts for a few days after I return as well.
I also posted a bit more on the module based campaign outline but that one has been hard for me to really get into.
My other post was the prologue for a Star Frontiers novel I’ve been working on off and on over the past few years. Over the last month I’ve picked up working on that some more. I’ve also been asked by several people recently if I’m ever going to publish the sequel to my book Discovery, so I’ve started looking at that again as well.
Behind the scenes, this last month has been mostly consumed in working on the next issue of the Frontier Explorer. I’ve also started putting Death at Rosegard into a coherent form instead of scattered bits and pieces.
So what’s coming up this month? As usual, the first post of the month will be the next installment of the Detailed Frontier Timeline.
The next post will most likely be the completed “Players’s Version” of the Expanded Frontier Map. All of the stellar data (with the exception of Mechan) has been entered and I have the map. All that’s left is to add the nebula, which I’ll be doing by hand, tweak the placement of text, and add in a legend. That’s all manual work, that won’t be done by the program so I just need to sit down and do it.
Issue 25 of the Frontier Explorer will be coming out this month as well, although that isn’t a direct focus of this blog, it definitely impact my time. It’s a sathar themed issue and we might have room for a few non-sathar articles but not many given all the great content we have.
I plan to sit down and work on the module based campaign some more this month so you can expect to see at least one post on that, probably after the Expanded Frontier Map post.
The remaining two posts for the month are somewhat up in the air. I doubt I’ll post any writing samples. One, nothing is really that polished and two, I don’t know that there is a lot of interest in that at the moment. There might be another post on either the Expanded Frontier Map, which would be the “Referee’s Version” with all the sathar data on it, or more on the campaign outline. Or both. I might even get far enough on the Death at Rosegard work to put out some sections of that adventure in near final form.
Are there any projects you’d like me to focus on? Something you’d really like to see finished? Let me know in the comments below.
And thank you to everyone reading, commenting, and especially to those supporting this work on Patreon. I really appreciate the feedback and support you provide.
Things have been pretty hectic here at the Frontier Hub as I’ve been busy editing all the articles for issue 25 of the Frontier Explorer coming out next month. Because of that and other events, none of my regular projects have gotten the time or attention they need to make progress and get something written up.
I’ve been working on the regular projects, however, and next week will probably see the final “Player’s” version of the Extended Frontier Map. I’ve got all the star systems in, just need to tweak the positioning of the labels and add in the nebula. And add in Mechan, I completely forgot that system when doing the map as one of my readers pointed out in the comments on Facebook.
In the mean time, I mentioned that I wanted to get back to doing some writing and so I’m going to post the prologue to one of the books I’m working on. I hope you enjoy it and let me know if you want to see more in future posts. I should be back next week with an update on one of the existing projects.
The captain of the Pale Starship Chiara stared at the view from his ship’s telescope. They were finally close enough to the unknown ships to start to make out details. From what he saw, they were nothing like any ship in the Frontier worlds.
There seemed to be a number of different designs but they all seemed to follow similar patterns. The nose of each ship was a large sphere. This was connected to the main body by a narrow neck. The main body of each ship was a bulbous affair. Everything seemed rounded and smoothed over. Very different than the more angular shapes of most Frontier ships, although there was some resemblance to the smoother dralasite designs.
The one thing they did share with Frontier ships was that the engines were mounted externally, away from the hull on struts. The engines seem to be similar in operation, if not design, to the PSS Chiara’s own atomic engines. The sensors reported signatures from the unknown ships’ engines similar to their own.
The question on everyone’s minds was where they came from. The huge flotilla of unidentified ships had been detected about thirty hours previously, headed towards both Pale and New Pale, the two planets in the Truane’s Star system. All attempts to communicate with the ships had failed.
Since all remote communication efforts had failed, it had been decided to send a ship out to attempt to communicate from closer range. The Chiara and her crew, along with her passengers, had volunteered for the mission. Although the captain was having second thoughts now that they were up close and could see the ships directly.
The captain turned to his second officer. “Is the data feed going out?”
“Yes, sir. Everything is going out in real time to both Pale and New Pale.”
They were approaching the lead ship. It would be another hour before they were close but they had been approaching and matching speeds with the unknown vessels for the last ten hours. It was eerie, the unknown ships hadn’t responded at all. There had been no signals, no variation in their flight path, nothing. They had just continued to decelerate toward Pale at the same steady pace.
That was another similarity between the unknown ships and those of the Frontier. They didn’t seem to have any sort of artificial gravity as they had been decelerating at just under one standard gravity since they had been detected.
As the ships drew closer together, Chiara’s captain started to feel uneasy. As they got closer, they were able to distinguish greater and greater detail on the ships. While mostly featureless, there were some features on the surface of the ships that looked disturbingly like weapons, although of what type he could not tell.
“Start hailing them again,” the captain ordered. “We detected them due to radio transmissions between the ships. Start on those frequencies and expand from there.”
“Yes, sir,” came the reply. “Commencing now.”
The captain listened as the calls went out and watched the view from the telescope of the ship. Nothing happened for a long time. He had just looked away from the screen to survey the crew on the bridge when his first officer called out. “Captain, look, there seems to be some motion on the ship.”
Whipping his eyes back to the screen, the captain saw that several protrusions on the surface of the ship that he had noticed earlier were rotating and beginning to point toward the Chiara. The bad feeling got worse.
Hitting the control for the ship’s intercom, he yelled to the crew. “Strap in and prepare for high gee maneuvers.” Not waiting for responses he called out to his pilot. “Bring the ship ninety degrees to port as fast as possible and throttle up the engines as far as they will go.” As the pilot began to respond, the captain strapped himself into his chair.
Looking at the view of the unknown ship, the captain hoped his was wrong about what the response from this ship meant. They were only a few tens of thousands of kilometers away from the lead ship now and it dwarfed the Chiara in size.
Suddenly there was a flash from several points on the alien spacecraft and alarms erupted all over the Chiara’s bridge. Glancing at his display the captain could see damage reports coming in from various parts of the ship. He also noted that they were suddenly in freefall.
“Bridge, Engineering. Both our engines are off line. They have both sustained damage of some sort.”
“Hull breach in crew deck two,” came another report. “The entire starboard section has been vented to space.”
“Life support failure. Primary life support equipment has failed. Backup system engaging.”
“Captain, radar. The alien ship has just launched a small object towards us.”
The captain looked back at the view screen. Amazingly the telescope had remained locked on the alien ship. It took him a few seconds to find the object but he found it. It looked like a small black dot surrounded by a glowing halo. He realized that it was some sort of rocket under thrust directly toward him. “Radar, what is the speed and closing rate of that object?”
“Captain, it is accelerating at about thirty gee and headed straight toward us. Estimated time to impact is three minutes if it doesn’t change its acceleration profile.”
Despite the implications, the captain was proud that the radar operator was responding calmly.
“Communications, open a comm channel back to Pale with our data feed.”
“Comm channel open captain.”
Taking a look around the bridge, the captain began what he was sure was his final transmission. “This is the TSSS Chiara. Having approached to within one hundred thousand kilometers of the lead alien vessel, we once again began attempting to communicate with the ship. We received no response until we closed within forty thousand kilometers at which point the ship opened fire on us with some sort of laser weapon. They completely disabled our engines and opened up a couple breaches in our hull including damaging our primary life support system.”
As the captain talked, the crew all began to watch him. He continued. “Immediately after the laser attack a single object was launched toward the Chiara. Based on its acceleration profile and trajectory, I can only assume that it is some sort of missile or torpedo. Time to impact is now less than two minutes.
“We cannot maneuver and the object is now close enough that it couldn’t stop before hitting us even if it tried. We will continue to transmit data but if the feed suddenly stops, at least you’ll know why. Good luck. Chiara out.”
With that he closed the transmission and turned to stare at the view screen. The object was much closer now and glancing at his display from the radar, it appeared to be about ten meters long and about a meter in diameter. The captain watched it as it closed the distance between them.
There was a flash and then the Chiara bucked under his chair throwing him against his restraints. He could feel heat radiating up from the lower decks and then the air being sucked out of the ship as it broke apart and vented its atmosphere to space. And then the fire welled up from the lower levels to consume the bridge and its occupants. With the air lost to space, the fire quickly died out leaving the interior of the broken Chiara dead and lifeless.
The alien ships continued onward, steadily decelerating toward Pale, not even seeming to notice the drifting hulk of the Chiara as they passed.
Okay. I’ll admit that this project has taken over my brain. It’s been fun for me to work on it and dust off some of my programming skills. This will be another small update as I haven’t had a lot of free time this past week but enough to get some work done. If you haven’t read them yet, the early posts are here: original post, update 1, update 2, & update 3
The good news is that I think there will just be two more updates and we’ll have the completed map. There might be a few more after that for upgrades to the software but those will probably be a bit more spaced out. Here’s what’s left to do:
I’ve decided that to get to the completed map, I’ll just do the nebulae by hand. I already have the shapes drawn on the B&W version of the map so it’s easy enough to transfer them and do the render. Getting the software to do the nebulae will be a future project.
If there is interest, I could also do a remake of the Zebulon’s Guide to Frontier Space version of the Frontier map in this style. While I’ve modified my map to match most of the named systems on the Zeb’s Guide map, they are not exactly the same (for reasons discussed in earlier posts) and the unexplored stars do no match between the two maps. If there is a large clambering for it, I’ll do that as a future project.
Let’s get on with this week’s update:
After I had the program interpolating the colors between the base spectral types, the next step was to sit down and code up the random generation of those spectral sub-types. I needed this to randomly fill in all the “unexplored” systems with a proper mix of spectral types. The explored systems are way too heavily weighted toward the F & G stars and there are a few too many (i.e more than about 3) for the number of stars in the region but that’s okay.
In any case, I wanted the relative numbers to be approximately correct based on real stellar distributions so I busted out data on the stellar mass functions and after a bit of math came up with a d100 table for the various main sequence spectral types (A, B, G, etc.) to determine the relative ratio of their sub-types (A0, A2, A4, etc). Once I had the numbers it was a simple matter to code up a few subroutines to generate the values. There are some refinements I could make in the future but this is good enough for now.
Once the program was generating random spectral types in the correct distribution, it was time to finish the smaller map corresponding to the Frontier provided in the original printing of the game and the later “Alpha Dawn” reprint (named to distinguish the core rules from the Knight Hawks supplement).
I did this by running a random map and then taking the spectral types generated and applied them to the remaining systems in the original map. Next I took the resulting file and edited it to tweak the positioning of some of the labels so that they weren’t overlapping any of the jump lines or other text. Finally, I took the nebulae I had created for the earlier version and imported them into this map. This gave me my final version of the smaller map.
I might revisit this in the future and do the nebula with different colors but for all intents and purposes, this one is done.
In making this I realized that the stars in system FS18 are really bright. It’s an M0 Giant and A0 main sequence star in a binary system. Combined, they are ~39x brighter than the sun and only 2 ly from Athor. That means they would appear to be at -5.27 magnitude star in the night sky. For reference, the brightest star in our sky, Sirius, is only -1.46 (small, more negative numbers are brighter). Venus, at its brightest, is a -4.2 magnitude object. That means that this star appears 2.5 times brighter than Venus at it’s brightest and about 30 times brighter than Sirius.
Now that the AD map is done, it’s time to start working on the full Extended Frontier map. I knew I was going to need a lot of random star systems so I generated a big random map with the program to get a good number of star systems with the correct spectral type distribution. I’ll use this whenever I need a random system value.
That done, the first step was to get the data for all the various labeled systems on the map. I already had the ones from the AD map I just needed to add the others. The data for these systems came from a variety of places. For the systems included on the Zeb’s Guide map, I used the spectral types listed in Zeb’s Guide after verifying that they made sense when mentioned in the modules (which usually just gave a color). I didn’t find any real issues so I just used the Zeb’s Guide values.
For the Saurian systems (east of the Frontier), the spectral types were taken from the article “The Sauria Sector” published in the Frontier Explorer, issue 4.
The data for the S’sessu systems (south of the Frontier), the spectral types were taken from the article “Phri’sk Anyone? Detailing the S’sessu Homeworlds” in issue 16 of the Frontier Explorer (p 23 – I haven’t gotten around to putting the individual articles of that issue on-line yet). However, that article only listed spectral types for two of the systems. For the other three, I selected random spectral types in the G & K spectral types from the list of random systems.
With all the star systems in place, I added in all the jump routes connecting those systems. I discovered I had a limit in my code that would not print a jump if it was over 14 light years in length. This was preventing the jump between Gruna Garu and Lynchpin from being drawn so I had to fix that bug. I still don’t let the random process create jumps that long but if you’re entering the data for a map and want a longer connection, the software won’t stop you anymore.
This also required me to change a couple of things. If you’re familiar with Zeb’s Guide, you may notice that the connection between Zebulon and Capella is now a straight line at 9 ly instead of a broken line at 10 ly. The broken line never made any sense given the Knight Hawks rules so I’ve done away with it. The other change was the connection between the S’sessu worlds of Kashra’sk and Minan. The map in the Frontier Explorer lists the distance as 12 ly but it is actually only 11. That is fixed on this map.
The next step is to now add in all the other systems on the map. To do this, I simply pull a system entry from the big random list for each star system on the map and remove the system from the big list so I don’t reuse it. I started in on that process, filling in the systems to the southwest of the Frontier but haven’t finished entering everything else yet. That will be the subject of the next update. However, here’s the big map as it currently stands.
This is just the raw, software generated map, with no tweaking or extra annotations on it. Over the next week or two, I’ll start adding in the rest of the stars and the nebulae. This map covers an area 90 ly wide and 100 ly high which should give your players plenty of area to explore if they need to get out of the Frontier and into the wilds.
That’s where the project currently stands. If you have any thoughts, questions, or suggestions, let me know in the comments below.
It’s been a fairly busy couple of weeks between family vacation and recovering from said vacation. I’ve been working on the map project but a lot of it has been behind the scenes and not anything that is easily displayable although some progress has been made. Additionally, I took the first steps toward getting the Murder at Rosegard adventure actually written up into a coherent document but again, nothing to display. So on to the map work.
This first bit definitely falls into the non-visible bit. I began implementing code that will allow me to draw the nebula. Over the past couple of weeks I figured out an good algorithm to use to trace the grid boxes containing the nebula and dived a bit into the code for SVG graphics to understand how to draw curvy lines.
There is nothing to see here yet but the next steps that I’ll be working on are:
That will probably be the content of the next update.
The other major bit I worked on was adding in code to interpolate the colors of the stars based on their actual spectral type. Originally, the code could just handle a few spectral types: B0, A0, F0, G0, K0, & M0 plus a few special types like brown & white dwarfs, black holes, and neutron stars. That is what you’ve been seeing in the maps to date.
The colors for those stars were picked partially to be visually accurate and partially to aesthetically pleasing. Basically I had to exaggerate the color variations between the stars as almost all of them would appear white to the human eye. The interpolated colors will smoothly shift between these predefined colors.
What I wanted was to be able to handle any spectral type, i.e. G2, F3, K7, M5, etc. To do this I needed to interpolate the colors down the spectral sequences. It took a bit of reworking the code to do the interpolation and that’s were I spent most of the time I had this week.
Once that was done, I went back through and put in the actual spectral types for all of the named Frontier sector stars. These were derived from a variety of places. In the original rules, the stars were just given colors which correspond roughly to spectral types. Then there were a few more details in the published modules. Zebulon’s Guide to Frontier Space provided actual spectral type designations for all the stars in the Frontier. However, some of those spectral types in Zeb’s Guide didn’t agree with the previously published material.
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to do this and luckily, the last time I did it, I recorded all the information. That was done on my Star Frontiers Network Wiki in the Frontier Travel Guide section. So for most of the stars, all I had to do was go through the pages on the wiki and grab the spectral types I had already figured out for each star.
With those code updates, and the updated spectral type values, you get the following map of the Frontier.
There are a couple of things missing from this map. First, I didn’t put the nebula back on as this was a test of the spectral colors. Plus I didn’t do anything for Padda or the star systems labeled with the FSnn designations. Those are still at the “0” spectral types. I will get to those but there is another bit of the code I want to update first (more below).
Oh yea, @Fiddleback on Twitter mentioned he couldn’t see his house and I promised him a zoom box.
The other thing I worked on was getting everything set up for the big map of the full extended Frontier region. This mainly involved just translating the systems in this map to the larger canvas.
There’s no difference between this one and the one above, it is just situated on the canvas is the correct position to correspond to the big black and white map. Over the next little while I’ll be adding in all the other systems as I extract their coordinates from the big map into the data file that generates this map. Watch for updates in the future.
I’ve already mentioned the work on the nebulae that I have on deck. On the spectral type front there are a few things I want to add there as far as functionality goes.
First, (this is the bit I hinted at above) I want to add code to the random system generation to properly generate the 0-9 subtypes. The relative ratios of major types (A, G, M, etc.) are accounted for but I need to get the relative numbers withing the major types correct. I have the data (or can get it) to do that, I just need to crunch the numbers and write the code. Once that’s done, I’ll add real spectral types to the systems labeled with the FSnn designation and really be ready to generate the full map.
With the spectral types the other things I need to do include:
Since I can do the nebula by hand for the Extended Frontier map, this work on the spectral types is where I’ll be focusing my efforts for the next little while. Once those updates are done, I’ll have everything I need to make the full-color Extended Frontier map.
Again, If you want to play with the code as I’m working on it, you can grab the current version from my StarMapGen repository on GitHub. This is still not the most user-friendly program to run as it it requires coding in all the parameters by hand before running but that’s on my todo list as well.
Here’s the next installment of the detailed Frontier Timeline. This month sees the sathar committing to a command structure for the coming war, the UPF begin to prepare for a potential threat, sabotage activities starting to hit important targets, and the Saurians beginning to flea their homeward in advanced of the sathar onslaught.
I’m thinking about increasing the posting frequency of these events on Twitter, and increasing the number of events in each monthly installment. Technically, an Earth month is 36 Frontier days so I should probably be posting at least at that rate. Anyway, it’s something I’m considering. Here’s last month’s events.
|60.115||The sathar starship construction center near Kizk-Kar completes construction of a heavy cruiser.|
|60.116||After nearly a year of investigation and undercover work, agents of the Pale government infiltrate and disrupt a major Star Devil operation in the outer reaches of the Truane’s Star system. Several vessels are seized including a frigate and pair of assault scouts which are added to the militia’s roster.|
|60.117||The first of the saurian Ark ships is completed in orbit around Sauria. While initial testing is completed by the ship’s command crew, the colonists to depart on the ship begin assembling on the planet with all of their supplies.|
|60.118||The first creche of 50 Eorna born from the recovered egg ship are hatched. All of the new babies are heathy and appear to be free for any serious defects. Representing a 33% increase in the existing Eorna population, there is cautions excitement about the prospect for the future of the race.|
|60.119||Saboteurs strike against the exploration ship being refitted by the Yaziria Heritage Foundation damaging it but not destroying it, setting back their efforts. The Foundation suspects the Family of One to be behind the attack.|
|60.120||After months of debate and wrangling, Clan X is given control of the current campaign against the Frontier. Clan Y continues to head the campaign against the Saurians.|
|60.121||The CDCSS Nightwind arrives in the Madderly’s Star System on its way back to Cassidine. The ship needs to lay over in the system for several days to complete overhauls on its engines.|
|60.122||After 14 days of climbing, the Spire Dragon mountaineering team has found a location one quarter of the way up Mt. Spire where they establish their first forward camp. Work begins hauling supplies up from the base camp while parts of the team continue the ascent.|
|60.123||Unknown assailants waylay the crew of the CDCSS Nightwind on their last day on station Kdikit. While several of the crew are injured, none are killed. The assailants are not so lucky and those that are captured are turned over to station authorities for questioning. The Nightwind gets underway for Cassidine|
|60.124||Beginning of year 2898 on Hum (Fochrik).|
|60.125||The CDCSS Nightwind is attacked by a pair of assault scouts as it makes its way out of the Madderly’s Star system. Too far out for assistance from Spacefleet, the ship is damaged but manages to damage its pursuers enough to escape, validating the ship’s design.|
|60.126||Large bomb explodes on Faire in the Capella system. Several hundred are injured and dozens are killed. It’s not clear who set off the detonation or its purpose.|
|60.127||The Medical Services Organization issues an alert about the rise is Ixiol cases in the Prenglar system, most notably on Gran Quivera but several cases have been reported on the Gollwin Academy. Cadets found using the drug expelled from Spacefleet.|
|60.128||The TTSS Destiny arrives in the White Light system on its Grand Tour.|
|60.129||Spacefleet and Star Law launch a joint investigation into the origin and distribution of the drug Ixiol. While it’s believed to originate in the Dramune system, the exact source is still unknown.|
|60.130||Strike Force Nova departs White Light for the Timeon system.|
|60.131||The CDCSS Nighwind arrives at Triad and is taken into the CDC shipyards there for repairs and inspections.|
|60.132||Its shakedown cruise completed, the first saurian Ark ship begins to load supplies and colonists for their exodus from the Saurian system. They don’t know where they will end up but prepare to flee the nearly inevitable annihilation at the hands of the sathar.|
|60.133||The Zik-Kit (Kizk’-Kar), Kawdl-Kit (K’tsa-Kar), and Ken’zah-Kit (K’aken-Kar) Defense Alliance (ZKKDA) places an order for an assault scout at the Inner Reach (Fromeltar) starship construction center to begin building up a militia for the K’aken-Kar system.|
|60.134||After weeks of planning and deliberations, Spacefleet initially uses its increased budget to commission two new battleships to be the basis of new Strike Forces. One is to be built at Gran Quivera (Prenglar) while the other is to be built at Triad (Cassidine)|
|60.135||Pale starship construction center repairs continue and capacity reaches 70% of its original value.|
|60.136||Another destroyer is completed at the sathar starship construction center in the Liberty system.|
|60.137||The first of the pirate ships seized in a recent raid (an assault scout) completes its refit and begins service in the Pale militia.|
|60.138||The Council of Worlds finally addresses the petition regarding signals emanating from a system beyond Hargurt (Gruna Garu) in the Vast Expanse. After listening to the evidence and hearing testimony, the Council creates a “Beyond the Frontier” subcommittee to analyze the data and present a plan for investigation.|
|60.139||Inbound to Minotaur Station (Minotaur, Theseus), the TTSS Destiny reports a sighting of an unidentified vessel that carried Spacefleet markings and transponder codes but did not respond to hails. The vessel matched the one reported in the Gruna Garu system.|
|60.140||Strike Force Nova arrives at Lossend (Timeon). It will remain in system for 6 days.|
|60.141||The CDCSS Nightwind completes its refit and inspection. It joins the CDC fleet as a regular freight hauler. CDC commissions the next ship in the series, the CDCSS Mystic, designed more as a passenger liner rather than a freighter. The new model’s profile is identical to the Nightwind’s but swaps out the cargo bays for modular passenger decks.|
|60.142||The Spire Dragons continue to make progress finding a location approximately halfway up Mt. Spire to establish a second advanced camp. Two team members were lost in the ascent to this forward camp. The next three weeks are spend hauling supplies up to this second camp and resting at the lower one.|
|60.143||Construction of the Spacefleet battleship at the Pan Galactic starship construction center orbiting Gran Quivera (Prenglar) begins.|
|60.144||Construction of the Spacefleet battleship at the Cassidine Development Corporation starship construction center orbiting Triad (Cassidine) begins.|
|60.145||The second assault scout seized in the Star Devil Pirate raid completes its refit and enters service in the Pale militia. With the frigate and other ships reaching completion as well, the militia mounts a recruitment drive to increase its ranks.|
And here’s the full timeline document: