Populating Space-based hex map

General Discussion

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Hey all,

I'm currently looking to mine some general encounter ideas and concepts for a SciFi hex map. Similar to how a fantasy map might have 'goblin warrens' or 'Abandoned Watchtower,' I am prepping this hex map with various encounters and dungeons with up to Encounter Level 6. If anyone has suggestions (particularly for dungeon themes) they would be very much appreciated - and as a start, here are some of the things on my map for inspiration and your own use.

-Locker's Reach: A stretch of asteroid belt haunted by the pirates of Dominik's Locker (wandering space barge HQ)
- Earthen Spur: Segment of asteroid belt populated by Earth Elementals riled up by the nearby...
- Roboto Manufacto Automato: An automated robot manufacturing plant that is currently mining the corpse of an immense earth elemental for minerals
- Hulk Warzone: A pair of large Space Hulks (ancient ruined ships), one populated by Undead and one by the 'Bone Shiv' space goblin tribe, who are at war.
- Formian Expansion: A low-level zone of Formians with an asteroid 'subhive'
- Formian Hive: The higher-level main hive
- Biosphere: An ancient biosphere, this one filled with tribal Maraqouis
- Silent Tomb: The tomb of... someone, protected by automated weapons and robots.
- The Warrens: Warring tribes of feral Ysoki, one main warren and two minor warrens spread through a densely-packed asteroid section.
- Pocket-Dimension Portal: A portal in space leading to a 'torn' pocket dimension infested with Akata and Driftdead
- Smuggler Armory: A small depot for Drow arms smugglers.
- Vile Monastery: A space station monastery of evil Contemplatives
- Hesper Techzone: An unknown Hesper has built himself a technological stronghold in the void and is building something.

So this is an interstellar map, and you're mapping what is in the systems? And the map is 2D not 3D? Just wanting to be clear.

2D hex map because 3D would be way too much to handle. The map itself is based on the premise of the parties (because multiple tables of players will use the map at one time) starting in the safety of "Town", which in this case is a small asteroid mining outpost, and venturing deeper into the asteroid field and beyond, all of which is in a nebula cloud making travel and communication more difficult at long ranges.

Rather than star systems I'm looking for 'space dungeon' concepts for lower levels. This game will very much be more dungeon-delver than narrative.


A supply cache. It may be trapped, it may be in the process of being looted, it may be infested (super-cockroaches, psychic fungus, tribbles... )

Some undead searching for a destroyed carrier. Diplomacy may be required and may be profitable.

A destroyed carrier. There are not-destroyed undead on it who are likely to be hostile, diplomacy or no.

A space station surrounded by random lightning bolts zapping out into the nebula. The space goblins who messed up the stations systems this way aren't likely to be friendly to adventurers coming to fix those systems.

An ancient comet. The surface is rock, but caverns leading into the interior delve into dirty ice. A group of vesk miners have set up their home base there, and their security people won't be friendly.

Why you wanna steal my ideas?!?
(Just kidding)

I think you have a solid beginning, and empty spaces work with the hint that the PCs (and maybe anybody civilized) just don't know yet.

You have done well capturing a space adventure feel, and I like the volume of earth elementals involved so that they are an active faction. If you do need more, I'd say go along those lines: adding more magic. I think a good example is in the Pact Worlds where a river runs through an asteroid belt.
What other terrains could be represented?
A desert might be some odd dust cloud nobody's mapped.
An arctic region might be a supernaturally cold area if you don't mind breaking physics, or one where heat or even the ship's energy are drained.

Or just tap into normal PF horrors like huge fungi strung between asteroids, or even planets. Outposts from the outer planes. And of course, ruins, lots of ruins, but with a mix of magic & tech, these ruins could be odd mixes of Star Trek, Cthulhu, & Pathfinder.

Anyway, I envy your players as it sounds like you have some good ideas brewing below that map.

You can always add the pockets of "Deadspace" from eve online; a region of space that cannot be warped (in this case drifted) into and thus must be accessed via other means or "slow boating" via standard navigation, giving any inhabitants plenty of time to prepare for their visitors.

A place that is more a less a no-go zone for most ships would be a perfect spot to set up operations that require going on uninterrupted for long periods of time. Whether it be a peaceful, but isolationist community, pirate stronghold, a faction's black site projects or some other shady behavior that must be away from prying eyes.

Also that Vile Monastery idea... Another variant of that idea could be a team of Chaotic Neutral/Evil contemplatives in power armor that don't do science, but rather SCIENCE!. Bonus points if you get what this is a reference of.

Thanks for the suggestions so far folks. Here's some of the other things I've added to the map.

"Cosmic Zones" - regions on the map. I already had 2 strands of asteroid field and one strand of ice asteroids intersecting both (my original vision was that a massive ice comet hit a planet eons ago to create the fields).
- Cloud of dense asteroid particles that inhibit scanners/vision and overheats starship systems if not careful. (Simulating a Desert region)
- Immense Starship Graveyard rife with electrical discharges
- Void of Cold, a magically produced ultracold territory that sucks energy from starship systems.

- Apari Colony trapped in an asteroid science lab
- Biosphere in the Void of Cold that is populated by tribal Wrikreechee
- A string of mysterious cargo containers said to be a famous smugglers cache
- Pyramids of the Dust, located in the desert area: 4 locations, the first two of which are pyramids that seem to have been severed from whatever they were built on. The third is actually a cube made up of two pyramids built around a gravity device (one location, 2 dungeons). The fourth is a 6-pointed 3d star, the square bases of each making a hollow cube in the center within which is a seventh spherical floating structure (1 location, 7 dungeons)
- A giant statue of a head, the mouth is a cavern inside. All of the walls are carved with more heads (probably populated by a Beholder and it's minions)
- While not knew, I decided for the Hesper Techzone that he is obsessed with his 'battlebots' and builds and fights them in his arena. Parties can fight as a bloodsport to get rewards. And he is at war with...
- 'Shocka' Space Ork tribe (40k flavour Orks), who live in the Starship Graveyard and whose leader is a shaman who plays music on a giant pair of tesla coils inside their space station.
- A hollow asteroid with a ruined city built along the inner walls.
- A hospital ship with no power, populated by Fungal peoples (flavoured Draeliks)
- Ruined Wizard Station, the one-time research station of a powerful wizard who created the Void of Cold around his tower to keep out trespassers. The hex it is in is not Cold and provides a stopover point through the void.

I've started adding a couple of higher level points on the map as well in the second, deeper strand of asteroid field. The first two are a pair of warring factions, the Empire of Stone (led by a Medusa Empress) and the Kingdom of Thought (led by a Mind Flayer king). Each of their HQ's are a dungeon fortress.

I'm still WAY open to more ideas, there's lots of open space on the map still.

A region of changing gravitational fields which is difficult to navigate thru and may have them heading into a different hex than expected. A small ship of gnome explorers is trying to map the area and they'll yell rudely at the PCs to leave. If you want a combat have the gnomes attacked by a pirate ship for a potentially three-cornered battle.

Another ancient comet/ice asteroid, this one heated from within somehow so there's liquid water on the inside. Investigation can reveal that there's a wrecked bulk freighter within whose power plant is somehow still working, but will also reveal that it was transporting a bunch of hostile aquatic aliens for some reason.

A secret laboratory, now taken over by the outsiders which were being summoned there.

What occurs to me is that physical distance being irrelevant to Drift travel, your map may represent something different.

Am I correct in thinking that a trip in the Drift between two "points" (say the Pact Worlds system and the Vesk capital) might require a different "route" and take different lengths of "real time" to complete based on factors outside the navigator's control? Wouldn't that make interstellar trade even more difficult than it already is?

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Am I the only sentient has caught this idea:

  • How about a language for close up gesture-based language using hands similar to sign language and for long distances a less precise language like semaphore using flags or lights. undead mimes not allowed.

"Last time I checked I was still alive but not for long. In the last month, I have traveled from the Pyramids of Dust to Locker's Reach, finally to the Twin Gorgons. Here at the Gorgons, I will die. With my last breath, I warn the living that THE DEAD TALK IN SPACE! THEY TALK WITH THEIR HANDS!" last personal log of Captain Maurice Sartan of the "Corsair Sweet Jenaveve."
the handheld computing device also contains a program that interprets and teaches this sign language. it is a program not made by Captain Sartan. It was made by Mate of the Sweet Jenaveve: Lefty Lightfoot.

The Twin Gorgans are tandem singularities (black holes) that orbit the outer edge of the region of the Tattered Worlds. Acting as shepherd to the debris of the Tattered Worlds.
The Tattered Worlds is the region of space where several star systems have been pulverized and the stars extinguished by an unknown force some 1,500,000 yrs ago.

A starship graveyard full of the tattered hulks of many freighters and other ships. Undead creatures inhabit it, almost always the remains of those who crewed the ships wrecked in the graveyard. The deeper one goes into it, the older the ships get. At the center is a metal sphere, perfectly smooth except for two sealed apertures at the poles.

Drifting through space is a vast orrery depicting an unknown star system. Each planet contains a small fragment of the original planet's ecosystem. Strangely, none of the environments are recogniseable to residents of the Pact Worlds, such as a plain of bubbling magma with towers of crystal rising up from it or floating islands with jungles hanging below them.

Liberty's Edge

Call me Moe, aargh! wrote:
Am I the only sentient has caught this idea:
  • How about a language for close up gesture-based language using hands similar to sign language and for long distances a less precise language like semaphore using flags or lights. undead mimes not allowed.

Percussive communication could work, too. Need to communicate information throughout the ship? Bang on something. Vibration travels, the crew feel the pattern and get the info. Probably only useful for simple things like "Battle stations!"

"I still can't grasp the fact that Captain Moe is dead. The Captian was a proper villain who had a larcenous heart. He was killed by that undead thing inside the Mausoleum of the Unholy. He was not the first person that I have seen killed but he was the closest to me. His personal computer was lost with him along with my linguistics app. My app to interpret the sign language of the undead. It caught enough of their gestures to make a good lexicon. We must recover it but I barely got away from undead spawn that killed the Captain. As First Mate, I have taken the helm of Sweet Jenaveve until we can find another captain. He will have to be a dasturdly crook to replace Captain Maurice Sartan. This time tomorrow the Sweet Jenaveve will be in her berth at the Monkey's Paw deep in Locker's Reach. Where there are proper marks to cheat and steal from." From the Master’s Log of the SweetJenaveve First Mate Lewis Lamont Lightfoot reporting.
Showing three different mindsets to the technique of piracy.
"Dominik's Locker"- a pirate ship slow but heavily armed ship that is disguised as a normal freighter. A hulk chassis, a powerplant out of a heavy cruiser, it has 20 cargo bays it is as big as a colony transport. The crew calls themselves the lockerroom mob "If they can't find dishonest work they will do honest work."
"Sweet Jenaveve"- a pirate ship fast and maneuverable, medium arms 4 cargo bays what she can't outgun she can outrun. The crew calls themselves the Lost Boys, “Intimidation is our middle name”.
"Ztu hue Brie Poli"-a Peth police cruiser turned into a pirate ship that is extremely fast, lightly armed, 1 cargo bay, and crew, two Peth deserters, and a human. has been called, “A wolf in sheep's clothing.”
The Bone Yard is an orbital junkyard for ships and parts for anyone looking to upgrade their engines. Used ships can be obtained here at “Crazy Ganack’s Used Starships”
The Monkey’s Paw is a space station that commands the high ground in Locker Reaches. The Paw is known as a port of low morals and questionable virtue. It is a haven for smugglers, thieves, and pirates.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I imagine electronic signal beacons to be far more likely than hand signals, lights, or flags. Type what you need to say on your arm computer, and away it goes.

They could even have holographic display cards in their HUDs, that have common words and phrases, allowing them to parse things together more quickly, like Stephen Hawkings. If all it takes is a glance at certain points of the card, they could communicate almost as quickly as one could talk.

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