The Ghost Walk Star Cluster

The Ghost Walk Star Cluster is located at the edge of the galaxy and is known for its spectacular views of dying stars, it’s just-ignited protostar nebula, and the gossamer strands of illuminated gas that inspired its name.

Approximately fifty light-years across, the Ghost Walk Cluster is composed of approximately 20 stars, most of which swollen red giants. Bands of dust and gas stretch between the stars, the remnants of supernova explosions that tore through the region long ago as well as periodic outgassing from the cluster’s surviving red giants. They are brilliantly illuminated by the protostar nebula giving the entire region a purple/blue tint.

Between the extreme age of the red giants and the youthfulness of the protostars, habitable worlds are far and few between, but those that do exist have become havens for sentients.

The Ghost Walk Cluster is located along the Wraith Run, a convoluted route that only the desperate take through the outer edge of the galaxy. Its sole virtue is that is that the Spacer Guild charges less for the route’s coordinates. Those coordinates are almost always several months, if not years out of date, as the Guild pays little for updated information on such an obscure route.

The Ghost Walk Cluster is one of the lesser dangers located along the Wraith Run, but an unexpected one for the unwary or unprepared. While the cluster’s gravitational fluctuations pose little challenge to modern, well-repaired ships, but older ones (or those whose onboard computers and navigation systems have been damaged) can find themselves knocked out of hyperspace by the ripples

Travel within the Cluster

Finding Destinations: The Ghost Walk Star Cluster is an obscure one, and there isn’t a good deal of information about it. Use Computer and certain Knowledge checks, however, can reveal locations of interest to those who find themselves within it.

Traveling: Ships with a modern navigation computer have a 10% of being knocked out of hyperspace by one of the gravitational fluctuations. The chance rises to 20% for those with outdated navigation systems, and 30% for those with no navigation system.

Pirates: Far removed from the centers of galactic power, the Ghost Walk Cluster’s proven to be the perfect lair for the DeadStar, flagship of the professional shipjacker, gangster and all-around scoundrel Geelo. The ship often falls back to the Cluster when it’s looking to avoid governmental entanglements or lay low after a particularly spectacular job. Geelo, a bug-eyed alien with a massive ego, terrorizes the cluster’s residents as a cruel hobby.

Locations in the Cluster

  • The Deadstar Fleet
  • The Shrouds
  • Calek System
  • The Burning Veil
  • The Boomer Debris Field
  • The Haunt / Bor Nik Tros

Locations in the Cluster

Boomer Debris Field

  • Physical Sciences: Average
  • Astrogation: Difficult

A forgotten engagement between rival star fleets took place in the null point between the red giant Anteholo and the near-Main Sequence star Boron. A huge asteroid field, consisting of asteroids and comets torn from each star’s Oort Cloud, floats here. The starships from that long ago fight were reduced to debris long ago (and those few that weren’t were stripped of any valuable gear by the Deadstar Fleet). What does remain, however, are thousands of mines scattered amongst the rocks.

Navigating the asteroid field is difficult (make a difficult Piloting Check; failure indicates a collision with a mine, which does significant damage). Succeeding with only a slight margin means that the obstacle has been avoided … but a once-dormant mine is now magnetically attracted to the ship and being drawn closer. Once so engaged, the pilot can make a difficult Piloting skill check to shake off the mine. If they succeed, the mine drifts away. If they fail, the mine makes an attack roll. Succeed indicated the mine detonates. Failure means that the mine missed … but another mine has been attracted to the target.

It’s possible to “slingshot” the mine at an opponent by making an exceptional Piloting check. If successful, the mine switches its target to the enemy ship, following the same rules as above.

Calek System

  • Galactic Lore: Difficult
  • Astrogation): Medium

Home of the Deep Dream Mining Company. The Calek system’s primary is a red giant; the swollen star devoured most of the contents of its star system, but its red dwarf companion Calek I survived. Goliath Station — Spectre’s space station – orbits the dwarf. The Goliath consists of several huge, spherical containers which hold the gas and metals gleaned from the Shrouds. It has minimal repair facilities, and these are geared toward fixing the Leviathans.

Like the Leviathans, the station is not heavily armed. It has two turbolaser batteries and strong shields (SR 50) to repel invaders. Though mostly stationary, the Goliath is equipped with a hyperdrive, and can jump to a safer location if necessary. It’s an exceedingly slow drive, however, and only used under extreme duress.

The Deep Dream Mining Co. and the Deadstar fleet largely ignore one another; the pirates have made the occasional run at Deep Dream ships, but the mining ships fled to hyperspace before their shields could be brought down and the vessels disabled.

Goliath Station

  • Captain: Gamnar Risant (Human)

Leviathan Three

  • Captain: Rya Nunb (Grey)

The DeadStar

The DeadStar is the flagship of the professional shipjacker, gangster and all-around scoundrel Geelo. Geelo operates semi-legitimate front businesses around the outer rim of the galaxy, including junkyards, parts sellers, and dealers in “used” starships. Up to half of the goods sold in these stores are the result the DeadStar fleets “aggressive salvage” operations.

The DeadStar itself is a massive auxiliary repair ship left over from one of the galaxy’s many wars. In addition to the repair, salvage, and manufacturing components common to such ships, Geelo augmented the Deadstar with external hangers capable of supporting a half-dozen starfghters. Each of these crafts is equipped with hyperdrives, ion weapons, and grapple guns.

A standard tactic is for the starfighters to hunt down potential prey and either slow or disable it. This allows the DeadStar to close in for the kill.

The ship carries a complement of approximately 80 crew including bridge crew, repair and salvage crew, and a contingent of the DeadStar’s much-feared DeadDrop troopers. The troopers are experienced mercenaries with marine training and are responsible for any boarding actions the DeadStar undertakes … as well as shaking down clients and providing muscle when in-port.

Geelo maintains a fleet of a dozen or so other starships, three of which are corvettes while the rest are armed and armored freighters. Rumor has he’s managed to acquire an old Republican frigate and that he’s scouring the outer reaches of the galaxy for parts he can use to repair it.

Dular System

Knowledge Checks

  • Galactic Lore: Medium
  • Astrogation: Difficult

The system‘s namesake star Dular is undergoing violent out-gassing that created a thin outer veil of relatively cool plasma while destroying all but one planet. Dular I remains on the system’s edge, orbited by a solitary moon. The system’s frequent flares inspired its nickname, The Burning Veil and made it ideal for hiding from enemy ships … assuming one can avoid the eruptions.

  • Hazard – Megaflare: Once every 6d6 hours a massive solar flare explodes from the surface of the star, threatening ships throughout the system.

The Haunt

  • Galactic Lore: Medium
  • Astrogation: Medium

The Haunt is a shadowport carved into the barely-habitable ice moon of Bor Nik Tros IV. The primary of the Bor Nik Tros system is an orange giant with a molted tangerine and crimson surface. The fourth planet is a gas giant that’s fallen in close to the star, causing the ice on the moon the melt. The melt has yielded a barely breathable atmosphere as microorganisms trapped in the ice quickly multiplied.

The Haunt isn’t a particularly good shadowport; it doesn’t see a lot of traffic, and thus, doesn’t have much trade. It has the following traits:

  • Parts Availability: Poor (cost limit 1,000 credits; parts available for unmodified licensed vehicles).
  • Docking Bay Security: Poor (price per day: 10 credits; entrances require average Mechanics check to bypass; an attendant is on duty during the day).
  • Refueling Facilities: Poor (Roll 1d20 each day; on a roll of 1-10, fuel is unavailable, the cost is 75 credits per kilogram).

It’s home to about 150 individuals and includes a number of small shops/stalls operating in a sort of “open-air market” in the main cavern. These shops sell weapons (including restricted and a handful of military grade items), armor, and computer equipment. It’s a poor man’s black market, and occasionally useful one to those who find it.

The Haunt is also home to the Black Ice, a dive bar in which all the tables and furniture has been carved from ice. It’s a brutal place and freezing cold, but popular with the locals for the obvious reason of selling alcohol. Hits of other, stronger drugs – namely spice and death sticks – can also be found here, but only once every 2d6 days.

The DeadStar and her crew have been known to frequent the Black Ice when in-system. Roll percentile dice; on a roll of 51% or higher a handful of DeadDrop troopers — Captain Geelo’s enforcers — are in the Black Ice when the player characters arrive.

Protostar Nebula

The newly-erupted protostar nebula is transforming the Ghostwalk Cluster, illuminating its ethereal gas shrouds and sending the occasional gravitational wave surging through the region. Those caught within the nebula must figure out a way to escape before its inferno-like heat can melt the hull of their ship and incinerate them.

Skill Challenge Traits

  • Escaping the protostar nebula is a skill challenge requiring nine successes before three failures.
  • Appropriate skills for the challenge are Pilot, Mechanics, Use Computer, Physical Sciences, Perception
  • Other skills may also be used, but their difficult classes should be harder.
  • Starting on the third round of the challenge, the ship automatically takes a moderate amount of damage from the extreme heat of the nebula.

Example Skill Uses

  • Sunburn (Piloting): A huge white star, so brilliant it nearly burns your eyes even through the polarized glass of the cockpit, flares brightly. But you manage to evade the sudden, kilometers-wide eruption of flame.
  • Into the Void (Perception): You find a void in the nebula. Diving for it, you buy the ship some time. (If the ship was taking damage from the nebula, then it takes no damage this round).
  • Divert Power to Shields! (Mechanics): A surge of ionized gas threatens to short-circuit the ship’s systems. You’re able to vary the shield modulation to momentarily match that of the plasma streaming past the ship. If the ship is taking damage this round, it manages to avoid it.
  • Reinforce that Bulkhead! (Mechanics;): The ship bucks violently as it slams into molten islands of protomatter . You bring the emergency inertial dampeners online; that should buy some time….
  • Hurry up and code! (Use Computer): Safety protocols? Who needs safety protocols. This shell script should speed things up nicely.
  • Lost Knowledge (Use Computer or Knowledge: Physical Sciences): You’re able to glean some more information about the Wraith Run from the Hyperspace Navigators Guild data. It turns out there was a flag about this nebula buried in a footnote, as well as references to some particularly strong magnetic sources within the nebula that can aid navigation. Gain a bonus to all Piloting checks for the rest of the skill challenge.
  • It’s elementary. Simply dive toward the star’s accretion disc… (Physical Science) Your knowledge of the physics of star formation allows you to map the currents near one of the protostars, providing the ship with a way to slingshot herself toward the nebula’s edge.

The Rock Garden of Qualis

The Rock Garden is an immense asteroid field orbiting the white dwarf Qualis. It is home to a psionic order of monks known as the Monastery of Celestial Balance.

The monks are masters of the telekinetic arts and use their powers to ever so subtly influence the orbits of the great asteroid field. The greatest masters of the Order are said to be able to move moons … and hold the orbits of 10,000 space mountains in their mind’s eye.

The Monastery is located within a hollow asteroid deep in the heart of the Rock Garden. It maintains rudimentary docking and repair facilities, though the density of the asteroid field and the skill required to navigate it mean they get few vistors.

The one-mile wide, four-mile long asteroid relies on a steady spin to generate a ¾ standard gravity field. Inside, the asteroid has a pleasant atmosphere, with temperatures consistently in the 70s. An artificial yellow sun at the bow of the asteroid provides a warm light that most species find comfortable, “rising” and “setting” in near-standard 23 hour intervals.

The monastery is led by the human Master Linren Valsh. A serene, peaceful master, Linren is willing to teach any species the psionic arts … assuming they prove themselves capable of the stillness and focus that is so essential to his order.

The monks are known as Gardners and spend their days tending to the vast “garden” outside of the asteroid, deftly positioning rocks based on a philosophy that that combines art, science, and intuition. There are 14 Gardners in all, each with their own apprentice. The most promising of these is a young alien named Jonn Jer. The young alien, a refuge from a destroyed world, possesses a mind capable of splitting mountains but the tramas of his past threaten to overwhelm the calm needed to wield this power.

The Monstary is also home to about 300 individuals who felt drawn to the Rock Garden’s celestial serenity, but lack the psionic gifts necessary to contribute to the garden. Known as the Keepers, they live simple, full-filling lives within the asteroid, tending to the fields, animals and intricate rock, flower and water gardens that dot its landscape.

The Shrouds

Knowledge Checks

  • Galactic Lore: Average
  • Astrogation: Average

The shrouds are the ghostly remains of supernova explosions, the lead edge of shock waves created by the death of red giants. These thin shrouds give the cluster its name and are largely unoccupied save for gas mining vessels known as Leviathans that drift through the gas scooping up rare metals from the husks of the ancient stars. The vessels, which belong to the Deep Dream Mining Company, are lightly armed and armored, relying on strong shields and two double laser cannons to repel pirates. The ships have excellent long range sensors and rely on them to jump away on those rare times when trouble arrives.

Leviathan One is captained by Sharack, a reptilian alian while Leviathan Two is led by Lir Nevv, an insectoid alien. Either of these ships may answer a distress call … if they can hear it.

Featured Image Meta

The Veil Nebula. Credit: Wikipedia.

 

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