My head has been in the dark reaches of space for a while as I’ve been working on some materials for a WIP game — Aliens & Asteroids. Though it’s begun as a Mazes & Perils reskin, it’s definitely changing into something else. However, I digress…
The void of space is a big place. And nobody has quite defined it as well for me as Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
The best part about space is that everything is so far apart. Vast distances exist between planets and moons, planets and other planets, planets and their suns… and then to contemplate the distance between galaxies it’s just mind boggling.
In that void, there have to be things traveling that we can’t see. In fact, only a few years ago we started realizing how many of those objects there may actually be. An article at New Scientist talked about some of the dark asteroids they found in orbits nearer to earth. They don’t reflect much sunlight, so they’re harder to spot unless you look for them in the IR spectrum.
So that got me wondering… what else is out there that we can’t see?
Here are a few options to explore in our science fiction campaigns…
I already mentioned these, but where better to set up a hidden base? Pirates used to find uncharted islands to hide out on and bury their treasure on, so why not have space pirates do the same thing? Preying on shipping lanes would be easy if you had a handy place to disappear to when you were done. And why not stash your ill-gotten-gains on one of them while you’re there?
Then there’s the idea of someone taking some of these dark asteroids and launching them as missiles at moons, bases, or even the Earth. Can you imagine the chaos that would be caused if suddenly a large object showed up on long-range scanners out of nowhere? Oops — it seems someone threw a large rock that could create an extinction-level event on Earth. Must be time to flee.
Something similar actually occurred on The Expanse recently and it definitely panicked the world pretty quickly.
You could then scale up to use the same concept with a dark moon. Moons probably generate a bit more of a gravitational wake than an asteroid would, but you might be able to hide on the “dark side” of the moon pretty easily. They created a whole goofy movie about Nazi’s with a secret base on the far side of the moon, away from prying eyes (Iron Sky). Imagine how cool it would be if there was a far-off planet with multiple moons and secret moon bases (aliens) on more than one.
Something tells me that the aliens may have a few secret dark moon bases in Aliens & Asteroids. 🙂
Black Holes are the ultimate dark object I think. Cosmic sinkholes drawing in matter and energy from all around them. If someone could find a way to combat the awesome gravitational forces, it would be a perfect place to hide out. You could almost create an entire colony on the edge and it would be all but invisible. Great place to put a black market or a gambling facility where you could only get to it if you KNEW it was there…
This is another concept breached very well by The Expanse. Imagine if you took the stealth technology of today and made it work in the darkness of space. Take the non-reflective idea of a dark asteroid, make sure there are no energy emissions from radio or other sources, and then use very small, very “quiet” rockets to propel these ships forward. It would be a space-based version of some of the submarines “running silent” on the ocean floor during WWII or the Cold War. Hiding in the darkness and the background noise of the universe.
Though once discovered, they would become primary targets — nobody wants one hanging around. I could see them being a great way to get a covert team into and out of somewhere without detection. But shooting a weapon or launching a missile (unless it too was using stealth tech) would raise a red flag really quickly. As soon as they try to bug out under full power, they would emit enough energy readings to be snagged.
Definitely something to consider in the void of space, don’t you think?
Those darned aliens. Of course, I’m thinking of the H.R. Giger variety introduced in the Alien franchise. If there was some way to dull the sheen on their shiny black domes (and they could go into some kind of suspended animation), they could simply float through space and decimate whatever planet or moon they drift to.
Somewhere, out there in the oceans of space, there are some creatures floating around, undiscovered. I keep thinking of the Doomsday Machine from Star Trek: The Original Series. That big funnel of doom was out there just floating around, eating planets. Though far fetched, I’m sure there are stranger things in the realm of possibility.
What do YOU have lurking in the dark? Let’s shed a little light this month, shall we? Please leave a link, and perhaps a brief introduction, for your submission for the March Carnival in the comments on the kickoff post. Looking forward to seeing what folks can come up with! (The kickoff post was here.)
A big thanks goes out to Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips for hosting the RPG Blog Carnival Archive and keeping us all on track every month!