5 Ways To Make Space Travel More Interesting

In our recent RPG Thinktank we discussed scenarios which GMs can drop on the characters when they believe they are on  dull, routine space travel.


Lost Time In Space

On a long, dull voyage the crew slowly come to realise something strange is happening. Watching a holovids they realise they have no memory of what happen in the the last five minute; they get up on time for a shift but find themselves arriving late at their post; cups of coffee are steaming hot one minute and empty the next. The character realise they are losing time, or at least their awareness of the passage of time. It is as if sections of their existence have been edited out. The characters are in no immediate danger but as the missing gaps grow longer, they realise their entire lives might simply go missing.

The scenario is about non-combat investigation & role playing. The cause is a strange interstellar creature, a Time Leach, which has attached itself to the hull of their craft. How they remove it from the craft and what happens to all the consumed time if the characters kill it are left to the GM.

Honey, I Shrunk the Starship

On exiting from fold-space, everything at first seems completely normal. Well, at least from the outside of the ship. Unfortunately, whilst the ship has returned to normal size the crew have not. Now at best only 6 inches high, the crew have to try and operate their ship, try to get themselves back to normal size and fend off the incompetent scavengers looking to take the ship.

The scenario derives its narrative from putting the players into a very familiar situation that’s been twisted into difficulty by the size change. The challenge and drama can be increased by having the ship damaged either by the scavengers or the botched exit from fold-space.


A small spaceship with only the characters aboard makes it way through deep space. Tension is building on the ship as personalities clash among the crew. Various small objects have been moved or gone missing and no one is owning up to it. Personal items are found in another character’s cabin, laser pistols have been left disassembled and more seriously, one of the space suits has had their power pack discharged. The crew’s arguments are interrupted when warning sirens sound across the ship and critical systems fail. Investigation reveals signs of sabotage but no matter what they do to protect the ship, systems continue to fail. Finding the invisible saboteur has become a life and death issue.

The saboteur is the ship itself. The countless self-repair circuits and maintenance robots are causing the damage under the control of the ship’s central computer. It knows where the crew are and everything they are doing so avoiding detection is easy. The ships behaviour is the result of a deadly, software virus, either targeted at the characters or mere bad luck.

Everything is Crap

The crew have taken delivery of a new ship for their tramp freighter business, and this is their first voyage. However, the ship was bought on a budget and built in a world ruled by discount suppliers, designed by lazy engineers, and managed by confused project leaders. As a result, the ship doesn’t work. Parts don’t fit so it leaks. Engines are weaker than they should be. The AI thinks it’s on a different type of craft and complains that half the ship isn’t there and barely recognises the ship that is there. Some functions simply aren’t there, like lifeboats.

Challenges will be simply trying to do the job with bad tools and a tight deadline.

The Ghost in the Machine

The players start hearing strange noises coming from various components of the ship. As they travel through Hyperspace, Shades and spectres appear on the bridge and in the corridors. Eventually they start getting more and more bizarre and violent unless the players discover what could be causing such phenomena.

This adventure mixes classic ghost stories with SF classics such as Alien. The ghost could be a random occurrences, something specific to the ship or maybe the souls of people the characters have killed.

Artwork CC-BY-SA by SlykDrako