Director of Engineering
Joined: 05 Apr 2010
Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.
|Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2021 12:03 pm Post subject:
|Jus stumbled across this in my archives. This was originally posted over on the Google+ Group, and I copied it down for personal use when G+ shuttered. I don't recall who the original poster was, so if you recognize this as your work, let me know.
Expanded List of Hyperspace Mishaps
If an Astrogator fails their Astrogation skill roll, that's certainly going to cause a mishap. In addition, hyperspace is not fully understood and not fully charted. This means that sometimes, through sheer bad luck (or GM fiat) a mishap may happen anyway. When a starship suffers a mishap, refer to the Astrogation Mishap List below. We're up to 23 entries now. Could we stretch it to 36? Then we could use a D36 to decide which one happens.
Hyperdrive Cut-Out: Starships are equipped with gravitic sensors designed to sense small masses and, if one is dangerously close to the ship's path the cutout will activate, throwing the ship into normal space. The cut-out system doesn't always work quickly enough to completely protect the ship, but it is an important safety back-up. Frequently, a hyperdrive cut-out activates in time to prevent a ship from colliding with an object and being destroyed – but not soon enough to prevent gravitic overload from damaging the hyperdrives.
If a ship's hyperdrive cut-out activates, it is catapulted into an unknown and uncharted region of realspace. To re-enter hyperspace safely, the astrogator must obtain a fix on nearby stars, determine the ship's location, and plot a new course. Getting a positional fix is a routine task, rolled on Astrogation. Next, they must make another Astrogation skill roll to see whether the second hyperspace journey is successful. Since the second journey is along the same path as the originally-plotted course, the standard duration for the second journey is the same as for the first, minus whatever portion of the total route has already been travelled. In other words, the only time lost is whatever time is needed to get a new astrogational fix.
Off Course: A data-entry error, an obstacle's gravity well or a gravity wave casts the starship off course. When it exits hyperspace it is light years away from its destination. The astrogator must find the ship's position and calculate a fresh course from scratch. If they wish, they can plot a new course to the intended destination, or they can jump somewhere different nearby in order to get back onto the main hyperspace network quicker. Since it is unlikely that the ship is anywhere near a well-travelled route, the standard duration for either journey is likely to be very high – possibly days or weeks.
Radiation Fluctuations: Radiation fluctuations cause surges in the hyperdrive. This may increase or decrease the duration of the trip (at the GM's discretion), but does not force the ship to drop out of hyperspace. However, the ship suffers minor damage as a result.
Fluid Leak: Something is leaking into hyperspace! It may be coolant, blaster gases, atmosphere, hydraulic fluid from the landing legs, organic fluids (a careless tech's forgotten Spice Beer Skweezy-BagTM, space slug guts, rakk guano or other even ickier stuff), rainwater that collected somewhere on the hull thanks to a blocked drainage hole, powder contaminants (dust, sand, spores) or many other options. The result is the same, though; whatever's leaking is being converted into hard gamma radiation, some of which is impinging back on the ship, beyond the ability of the radiation dissipators to keep up. This may be harmful to the crew, or if not fixed it could permanently irradiate some area of the ship. The leak must be found and stopped. As with mynock infestations, depending on what's leaking and the severity, it may be possible to deal with the problem once the ship reaches its destination. Other times the characters may have to drop out of hyperspace and fix the problem immediately.
Space Skeets: Space skeet is a slang term for any of a variety of creatures large and small that might try to set up house on the outside of a space ship. Mynocks are lazy, and don't move much unless disturbed, and most other critters simply die. Unfortunately once these frozen popsicles have died they may be dislodged, and when they fall off the ship they can cause sudden radiation spikes. Some animals (very, very few, but some, such as space slugs), can survive, and can creep, crawl, chew, excrete, mate, fight, make nests - and fall off into hyperspace as well. The usual consequence of a 'space skeet' infestation is that there will be radiation spikes which will cause malfunctions in random ships' systems at variable intervals depending on the degree of infestation. The spikes tend to be more common when a ship enters or leaves hyperspace. Other consequences may vary depending on the particular species in question, but 99 times out of 100 a 'space skeet' is just a frozen organic blob that will shatter like a clay pigeon if it suffers damage (hence the name), and which causes a radiation spike if it falls into hyperspace during a transit.
Mynocks: Mynocks are leathery, manta-ray-like creatures which can survive in vacuum. They like to attach themselves to modern powered installations – including passing starships – and chew on the power cables. They can cause electrical shorts, power losses to ships' systems, spurious sensor readings and so on. Because hyperdrives require power cables and projectors to be present in comparatively exposed places, they tend to be particularly vulnerable to mynock damage.
The precise result of mynock infestation is at the GM's discretion, but the most usual result is that unless the PCs do something about it, the trip takes longer than expected. The mynocks can be removed once the ship reaches its destination. Depending on the size of the craft and the extent of the infestation, the duration will be increased by a greater or lesser amount, chosen randomly by the GM.
Alternatively, the ship can drop out of hyperspace wherever it may be, and a character can go outside to shoot the mynocks off. If there's a planet or asteroid nearby, the ship can set down. Otherwise the character must go out in a spacesuit and float in space to get the mynocks. Of course, mynocks are happy to live on the insides of ships too, if the ship is big enough. They often lurk in far hidden corners of the cargo bays, in maintenance crawlways and other inaccessible spots. With much effort it's possible to eradicate all mynocks and remove all mynock cysts on or in a starfighter scale vessel. On a capital ship, it's just about impossible. There are always sources of re-infestation, in starports, on asteroids or planetoids and from other starships, so keeping these pests under control is a never-ending job.
Once the ship has dropped out of hyperspace, the astrogator must fix and plot a new course, just as for any other case where the hyperdrive cut-out is activated.
Close Call: Radiation fluctuations or a close encounter with a space object have damaged some ship system other than the hyperdrive. The ship continues on its journey, but repairs must be made. The gamemaster should determine what system(s) have been damaged – life support, ion drives, nav computer, guns, escape pods, etc.
Cargo Shifts: A gravitic pulse, a repulsor pod blowout, a barrier shield malfunction or some other externally-triggered problem causes the cargo to shift. 'Cargo' on a warship may include one of its missile magazines, which is a serious issue. On passenger vessels a 'cargo shifts' result may mean passengers needing to be relocated to different quarters because of the malfunction. Whatever the case, while the ship does not necessarily need to exit hyperspace, the shifted cargo must be re-secured properly, and the problem that caused it to shift must be fixed or worked around.
Collision: The hyperdrive cut-outs failed to activate in time, and the ship actually collided with an object. Luckily, the object was tiny, and the ship, through damaged, was not vaporised.
The ship is hulled, and air begins to escape immediately. All characters in affected areas of the ship must make survival skill rolls to get into space suits in time (Easy for spacers, Moderate for non-spacers). Anyone who fails falls unconscious from lack of air; another character can, with a successful survival skill roll (Moderate difficulty), get an unconscious character into a space suit in time to prevent his death. If there's no-one to do the job, the character dies. In small ships, a hull breach affects all crew members. In larger ships, most areas should retain their atmospheres.
The ship drops out of hyperspace, repairs must be made, and a fix and a new course must be calculated.
Slow Entry: Normally, entering hyperspace happens very rapidly – quickly enough to out-run any last-second incoming weapons fire, for example. But sometimes the route chosen requires a much slower entry. In these cases, there are several possible risks. The first is that any last-second weapons fire gets a chance to hit the ship. (The GM decides whether or not the pilot may try to evade.) Second, any other ship in the area gets ample opportunity to track the target vessel and predict where it is heading. Third, slow entries place a heavy strain on the ship's hyperspace motivator, greatly shortening its operational life.
Rapid Hyperspace Entry: Entering hyperspace faster than the ship's hyperdrive is rated for is also harmful. The incompletely-shielded acceleration may damage the ship and even injure crewmembers.
Undershoot: The ship comes out of hyperspace at the expected time, but materialises much further out from its destination than anticipated. The destination is close enough that flying there using subspace drives is possible. The characters can either try another jump anyway – in which case there will be the usual chance of all the standard mishaps, or they can fly to their destination using their sublight drives, which will be safer but slower. The GM determines the standard duration of the new jump, or the number of hours required for the subspace flight.
Overshoot: The ship exits hyperspace on schedule, but has slightly overshot its destination. However, it has arrived close enough that flying there using subspace drives is possible. The characters could try another hyperspace jump back the way they came – in which case there is the usual chance of another mishap, or they can fly to their destination using their sublight drives, which will be safer but slower. The GM determines the standard duration of the new jump, or the number of hours required for the subspace flight.
Early Exit: The ship drops out of hyperspace unexpectedly early. They may appear near their destination, or some considerable distance away. The characters can try another jump anyway, or they can fly to their destination using their sublight drives. The GM determines the standard duration of the new jump, or the number of hours required for a subspace flight, if feasible.
Late Exit: The ship does not drop out of hyperspace when expected. The characters can either sit tight or they can activate the hyperspace cutout. If they activate the cutout, they might turn a 'late exit' into an 'early exit' as described above. If they sit tight, they might overshoot, which has the same consequences as an early exit (they just have to fly back). Alternatively, they might suffer some other mishap, such as flying off course, a collision, or a hyperspace cutout event. Or, if their nerve holds they might come out of hyperspace just fine exactly where they were intending to. What to do?
High Delta: Normally when a ship exits hyperspace, it will be moving reasonably slowly relative to its destination. In a high-delta exit, the ship arrives still moving at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light, and must use its sub-space drives to slow down drastically. This will take time and costs fuel (as determined by the GM), and causes many captains to cuss up a blue streak. On the other hand, sometimes a high delta is useful; no-one local will be able to intercept you unless they have considerable numbers of fast craft already set up and waiting. For this reason, military scouts often use high delta manoeuvres.
Slow Exit: The opposite of a slow entry; the ship takes an abnormally long time to transition from FTL to sublight speeds. Sometimes (rarely) this is normal. The ship's alluvial dampers need to bleed off energy from the hyperfield, and they can only work at a finite speed. But the result is that the ship is detected early and every ship in the region around it is aware of its arrival and precise vector. If they're hostile, that could be a serious tactical problem. Also, the ship's arrival point may be wildly thrown off from its intended position, which means that while the enemy, if any, knows exactly where you are going to drop to sublight speeds, your own side does not.
Hyperfield Collapse: The ship's hyperspace field collapses unexpectedly. There can be many causes – a power or software glitch, a hyperfield projector burning out, gravitic overload, ion fouling, mynocks and so forth. The result is the same; one microsecond you're in hyperspace, the next you're not. An astrogation fix is necessary before the ship can continue, and the cause of the problem must be found and corrected, or it will probably recur.
Partial Hyperfield Collapse: This is the hyperspace mishap that makes spacers wake up in a cold sweat. Hyperfields are designed to collapse cleanly, uniformly, and above all, very, very quickly. After all, that's how you exit hyperspace. If a ship suffers a partial hyperfield collapse, that means part of the ship is still in hyperspace while part isn't, and that's exactly as bad as it sounds. Savvy spacers generally look for ships with known records of partial hyperfield collapse, on the grounds that if a ship has been in service for any length of time and no-one has ever reported a partial collapse, that probably means it's not a survivable mishap in that model of starship.
Pulsar Beam: This is an example of multiple bad things combining. Normal hyperspace routes carefully skirt around pulsar beams, so if you pass near one you're almost certainly badly off course. They can cause considerable damage, burn out ships' systems, and if the ship exits hyperspace while still caught in the beam a realspace emergency will swiftly follow on the coat-tails of the hyperspace emergency. Nasty.
Ion Storm: The ship's route passes through a hot diffuse region of the interstellar medium, and the ship starts to pick up a significant electric charge. A negative ion storm will add excess electrons; a proton storm will strip them away, and they will stream into hyperspace and cause a radiation backwash on the ship. The overall result is similar to the Radiation Fluctuations mishap, but the ship will also need to take discharge precautions before docking or landing or it may be the victim of a colossal electrical surge. Having your ship spontaneously arc-weld itself to a station docking port is costly to fix and very inconvenient, and most pilots agree that being repeatedly struck by enormous lightning bolts as you're trying to land planetside is equally tiresome.
Gravity Wave: Two distant black holes have merged, and a gravity wave washes across the galaxy. This will cause a wide scattering of starships to be nudged slightly off-course, and the characters' ship is one of those affected. You should have paid closer attention to the Hyperspace Hazards Bulletin, guys. The Gravity Wave mishap gives the same results as several other mishaps, including Off Course, Undershoot, Overshoot, Late Exit etc. GM chooses which.
Other Disasters: While this list has expanded, it is still not an exhaustive catalogue of the dangers of hyperspace. Hyperspace is very poorly understood. It can contain anything. Anyone got any other favorite mishaps they'd be willing to add to my list??
"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.
The CRMcNeill Stat/Rule Index