Nov 27, 2022


No books this weeks!

Roleplaying Games

Sylea Rising

This week I kicked off my new Traveller campaign, called Sylea Rising. It’s set during the Long Night, a nearly 2000-year-long period of galactic anarchy between the fall of one great space empire (the Rule of Man) and the rise of the next (the Third Imperium)1.

The game is set in Lishun Sector, here’s the map I gave the players:

Lishun Sector

It looks pretty empty at first, but look a little closer: there are a lot of question marks.

Those are worlds which were, once, well-known. This isn’t unexplored, unmapped, space. But it’s been close to 2000 years since anyone has visited those worlds, so nobody really knows what’s going on out there. My secret referee map is a bit more detailed, but there’s still a lot of blank space to populate with whatever I’m in the mood for at the time.

To make these maps, I took the Lishun data from the Traveller Map (great resource) and wrote a library to interact with sector data files. It was then just a matter of writing a little script to make everywhere worse: about 10% of worlds I killed off (set the population to 0, with a 25% chance of having a basic starport still there), for the surviving worlds I re-rolled the population, starport, and tech level (set to be 1 lower than standard, and capped at 12).

I spent far too much time working on that library, I could probably have done it manually in less time, since I didn’t really need to prepare the whole sector up front. But it’s done now.

The setting has—well, not exactly a secret—but a facet I don’t think the players have picked up on yet: they know the game is set some time before the founding of the Third Imperium, and they know that the Sylean Federation is one of the largest and most successful interstellar polities in this period, and the campaign is called “Sylea Rising” so clearly it gets even bigger and better… but I’ve not come straight out and told them the Sylean Federation will become the Third Imperium and that they’ll see that happen.

The campaign isn’t about large-scale politics, so they won’t play a part in that coming to pass, but I’m hoping it’ll be a fun moment for the players of our previous campaign when it does happen.

This week we had our session 0: I gave them a run-down of the setting, we talked about the tone and themes of the campaign, then we made characters. The campaign proper will start next week, and I’m planning to run them through Murder on Arcturus Station (just not, you know, set on Arcturus since that’s sectors away—some closer world will do).


This week I switched to using chezmoi for my dotfiles. chezmoi is a dotfile manager plus a basic templating system, so you can have different dotfiles on different machines. I decided to switch because I had a few differences which I wasn’t really tracking, which isn’t great. It’s fairly simple and wasn’t much effort at all to get set up. Encoding metadata in filenames is a bit weird, but it’s something I can live with.

  1. Yes, this part of the Traveller setting is obviously inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series: the first emperor of the Third Imperium is even called “Cleon”, and he uses psychohistory to help his fledgling empire succeed!↩︎