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In the Grey: Starship Activities In Jumpspace

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2017 issue.

Travellers can spend a lot of time in Jumpspace or “in the Grey” as many seasoned Travellers refer to it. Just one Jump necessitates roughly a week spent in transit between star systems and there may be anything up to 20 or 30 Jumps in a year for merchants; perhaps more for couriers on a mission to get somewhere, or military ships pushing the tolerances of their crews. In short, a lot of time is going to be spent incommunicado with the outside universe and often in very cramped conditions. Just look the deck plans of a typical scout or free trader to see how little ‘living’ space there is, particularly for passengers. Deck hands and engineers may have a little more freedom to move around areas that might otherwise be forbidden. Many will relish this.

Traveller gamers often seem to underestimate just how tedious Jump travel will be in the 57th century and if Referees ask, often resort to the three old standbys – I’m exercising, I’m learning a new skill or I’m cleaning my weapon. This seems to be missing a lot of opportunities for adventure seeds, role playing or just a little ‘atmosphere’ or variety. Indeed entire adventures might take place in Jumpspace although surprisingly few seem to be set there. This was one reason for my own small contribution in ‘Getting There is Half the Fun’, Freelance Traveller, April 2014, and as suggested elsewhere in this issue, Jumpspace would make the ideal setting for the ultimate locked room mystery.

The following tables which can be used with any edition of Traveller are offered to help suggest activities for crew and passengers on board ships in transit although it is not suggested that PCs should be limited by rolling on them directly. However, they may help give inspiration or allow overburdened Referees to select activities for NPCs or to decide what they are doing at any given moment should it be necessary. Despite the D66 rolls being equally likely, it is not suggested that each of the activities is equally likely with regard to time spent on them. Sleep will usually take up a third of a character’s time and maintenance or repairs might be much more likely activities than, say, letter writing home. Of course, individual travellers’ mileage may vary. (And, for example, those who compose and send comms messages are much more likely to receive them – something many travellers welcome in the further reaches of voyages a long way from home.)

Note that this is fairly humanocentric and Referees may wish to adjust or replace some entries for alien or minor race crew or passengers. Examples might range from Aslan duels or weahakhil composition to Zhodani psionic training or re-education under the supervision of the Tavrchedl’.

Table 1: Basic Activities
D66 Activity
11 Physical training – exercise, weight training
12 Mission training – briefings, terrain study, onboard simulations
13 Mission preparation – equipment checking, repair & cleaning
14 Education – formal learning, mental training, skill development
15 Practice – weapons, music, hobbies, Art disciplines
16 Rehearsal – performance related rehearsal
21 Accommodation cleaning & tidying
22 General ship maintenance (see Table 2)
23 Repairs – fault finding & fixing (see Table 2)
24 Cargo hold checks
25 Cargo manifest checking / ship’s accounts
26 Specialised cargo care
31 Stewarding duties – including laundry
32 Entertaining passengers
33 Passenger tours, lectures, briefings (e.g. on upcoming system and main world)
34 Political meetings
35 Religious services
36 Personal devotional time
41 Medical care
42 Physiotherapy or psychological therapy
43 Cybernetic or robotic maintenance
44 Computer programming or data analysis
45 Astrogation calculations, Brokerage preparation
46 Profession practise (from wood working to hydroponics)
51 Reading or Holo-viewing
52 Letter writing or Vid/Holo message recording
53 Creative or academic writing
54 Games – physical
55 Games – table
56 Games – electronic
61 Food preparation
62 Eating
63 Fifth Night (see below)
64 Social interaction
65 Intimacy
66 Sleeping – this should be roughly 1/3 of a day for a human or see Traveller5 rules

Fifth Night

An evening set aside on most ships in the Third Imperium, and beyond, whether large or small, for some form of entertainment. Most traditionally it is a ‘jump-in’ where motivated individuals or groups can demonstrate a talent and an MC or Master of Ceremonies will encourage participation, decide on a running order and introduce the acts. The Fifth Night tradition arose from it not being missed due to an early Jump exit but allowing some time for preparation. Sometimes, e.g., on passenger liners, it may be a more formal party or performance. Sometimes it is just an excuse for a ship with crew only to have a late night drinks or game session.

Ship Maintenance and Repair Activities

Some of the entries on Table 1 may need further definition as to location. Table 2 can be used where appropriate. It is designed with Adventure Class ships in mind but if any particular ship doesn’t have the relevant entry re-roll or choose the nearest available location or system. General maintenance or repair might also include less regular jobs that require doing perhaps only annually or less frequently—from cleaning out drainage systems to recoating a water tank’s internal surfaces. The Chief Engineer likely has a wall chart tracking such requirements.

Table 2: Repair and Maintenance Activities
2D6 Section or System
2 Cargo Space
3 Carried craft or vehicles
4 Equipment – weapons, armour, gear
5 Accommodation – passenger
6 Bridge/Computers
7 Engineering
8 Accommodation – crew
9 Life Support systems (including plumbing/waste management)
10 Safety equipment
11 Electrical systems/fibre/comms
12 Hull (see note following)

The hull may present difficulties in Jumpspace if it is an external issue. Although some Traveller universes allow egress from the ship in Jumpspace within a very limited Jump bubble. But best keep those visors opaque!

Engineering Activities

Engineering may be further broken down if desired:

Table 3: Engineering Activities
D6 Engineering section
1-2 Jump Drive
3 Manoeuvre Drive
4 Power Plant
5 Life Support
6 Other systems*

*This can include items from Table 2 such as safety equipment or electrical systems for example. MegaTraveller’s Starship Operator’s Manual by Joe D. Fugate et al can give further detail on this if required.