“Planet” is being generous. Penthos is a planetoid, a rockball a little larger than Luna and a touch smaller than Mercury, orbiting an F-type star. Still, it has an atmosphere, even if humans can’t breathe it. Surface temp is a bitch, too; she’s not as close to her system’s sun as Mercury is, but you wouldn’t want to be out there in less than 3,000 sunblock – or, hell, let’s be honest, a full pressure suit with temperature control.
There’s not much to be out there for; what passes for atmosphere doesn’t include moisture. You thought those sharp, shorn formations at Vasquez Rocks were weird? Here’s a whole planetful of them; the particulates in the atmosphere have been doing some starkly beautiful sculpture work, which has exposed some rare earth elements that an exploration co-op was able to extract with minimal work and sell at enough of a profit to finance a colony. Not only that, there are enough resources in Penthos’ four surrounding moons and neighbouring star systems to build enough of an economy that the co-operative has become a full-fledged colonial government.
We’re not talking some frontier utopia, though. Chigusa Corporation has taken interest in the local mining operations. They shipped one of Penthos’ two orbital survey stations in and are getting aggressive in either staking claims or buying wildcatters out. The exploration team on the other survey station, long an ornery bunch, are getting militant in their own right, wanting to preserve exploration and research over exploitation.
Clowns to the left, jokers to the right with colonial leadership are stuck in the middle, trying to keep heads cool and look after the growing population, which ain’t as easy. Some locals thought colonial admin was getting too chummy with Chigusa right around the time there was a supply shortage. Anger plus hunger equalled a riot; the government is still enforcing a lockdown while they try and clean up afterward.
Which gives an enterprising starship crew some opportunities. The larder of a Chigusa mining operation in a nearby system is close to bare, and the company is paying $42K to get several containers of nutrients out there stat, with a bonus for timely delivery – which may be tough to meet, what with that distress beacon en route (yep, a systematised transmission of definite human origin).
Naturally, Colonial Adminstration has a presence on Penthos and they’ve brokered a job to get some ingots from an in-system mining operation to another nearby colony (interstellar again) to help maintain its atmosphere processor. Their pockets mightn’t be as deep as Chigusa, but $36K ain’t to be sniffed at, plus they’re offering a guaranteed contract to a crew who can demonstrate reliability. It’s a milk-run. Well, it would be if not for the go-slow at the dock while a union tries to negotiate an end to the lock down with Penthos’ government.
Speaking of, a rep from the government-run survey station is offering $31K to run some radioactives needed for power supply and analysis gear aboard one of their main explorers. No need to even leave the system. Unfortunately, said science vessel is having some technical difficulties that they’ll need a hand resolving before they can take delivery.
I guess the question is, how much cash do you need, and how much risk are you willing to take?
After getting the feeling that the world-building in Decuma might be a bit overkill, I decided to try making some random rolls on the star system and job generators in ALIEN: The Roleplaying Game to see what I came up with. I like the idea of doing some general missions to get a feel for the world and the characters before introducing some more overarching ideas like van Leuwen’s investigation into the LV-426 incidents. Also, it gives a feeling of finite limits on play rather than the intimidating expectation of an open-ended campaign.
And, yes, I included the complications in the job descriptions. This is more to illustrate how the short descriptions in the tables can be turned into interesting missions, although I’d have no objections running these jobs for any players keen.