Anomaly One: The Outline
A roleplaying game outline is a wonderfully flexible document that bears little resemblance to the finished product. A narrative like a novel has to go from start to middle to end, you have a procession of events that have to be in order. A roleplaying game supplement is a textbook – you have a few topics you have to cover, a lot of topics you might cover, and the order in which you present them isn’t always obvious. As you write the book, you think of more stuff that should go in, and you find that some sections are redundant or a lot shorter than you expected them to be while others just go on and on.
(Outlining Anomaly One is further complicated by the potential for a print version – the length of the pdf is effectively unconstrained, but a print version really has to be long enough to justify a print run and a multiple of 16 pages long - 32, 64 and so forth. Anyway, that’s getting way ahead of things.)
The content divides roughly into four sections.
1) The player section – background details on our solar system and the future setting. Earth has fusion power and affordable space travel (TL8 in Traveller terms), but we’re running out of various metals. To the asteroid belt, for profit! There’ll be new or tweaked careers, a few spacecraft, and new event tables to match the new background.
2) Anomaly One – the alien ship, and what’s on board. The ship is five kilometres long (think Rama), but the characters initially have access to only part of it. Exploring the ship is something you can do while in jump space (again, using the conventional Traveller jump drive). After the ship has completed its first jump, the PCs can control where it goes next to a degree. The ship bonds to the player characters to some extent, and only allows them to command it.
There are several other groups on board the ship. The initial outline had half-a-dozen such factions, but that’s too many – there’ll be new alien races in section 3 too, and I don’t want to overload the players with weird aliens. So, some of the previous passengers on board the ship are long dead, but they’ve left relics and ruins that the characters can find.
3) The new region of space that the ship jumps into. A full Traveller sector would be overkill, so it’ll probably be a 2×2 or 3×3 grid of subsectors, which is still plenty of planets to explore. There’ll be another four or five alien races here, and the region is on the verge of open conflict. The sudden arrival of a giant super-advanced starship may tip them over the edge.
4) Adventures and GM advice, including several long-term plot arcs and suggestions on what’s really going on and what the Anomaly One is. You can compare it to Stargate: Universe, with its ancient alien ship to explore, or Farscape with the characters being dumped into the middle of alien space with no way home. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, the Odyssey.
So, the initial outline looks like this:
Introduction – 2 pages. How to use Anomaly One.
Future History – 4 pages. The current state of the Solar System.
Earth has developed fusion power and limited grav manipulation (TL8/9), but resources are running scarce, so they’ve turned to mining the asteroid belt. Most exploration is done by remote robots, but there are communities at Vesta/Trojan Points/Jovian Moons/Mars. Conflict is growing more intense as Terran powers use the asteroid belt for proxy wars. Clashes between US citystates and Chinese multinationals grow more intense.
Character Generation – 8 pages
New Events table
Background stuff – characters can be agents of one of the Terran powers
Equipment – plausible near-future stuff.
Anomaly One – 2 pages
Discovering Anomaly One – 4 pages
Map – what does the Anomaly look like? Tree? Node network? Sphere? Star? Space octopus?
Sections – 1 page
Primary Area – 6 pages
- The Docks
- The Warehouse
- Command Island
- The Dead Zone
Secondary Areas – 1 pages
- The previous passengers – 4 x 6 pages
Tertiary Areas – 1 page
- Power Source – ½ page
- Stardrive – ½ page
- Weapons System – ½ page
- Communications Hub – 1 page
- Operations Centre – 2 pages
Life on board Anomaly One
- Day to day life – 2 pages
- Navigation – 2 pages
- Sensors – 1 page
- Communication – 1 page
- Trade – 3 pages
- Defense Systems – 2 pages
- Exploring the Anomaly – 3 pages
- Events on board – 4 pages
- Anomaly One adventures – 6 pages
The Unknown Region – 4 pages
- Races – 16 pages
- Sector Guide – 20 pages
- Adventures – ?? pages
GMing Advice & more – 8+ pages