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Old September 2nd, 2013, 06:35 AM
Carlobrand Carlobrand is offline
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Default Fortean Traveller

There are anomalies in the Imperium that give hints of something strange in jump space. Officials and scientists alike are absolute in their declaration that nothing can exist in jump space, and yet strange phenomena remain unexplained.

Item: the phenomenon of jump psychosis.

A very rare condition, occurring in no more than one jump traveller in a billion, the phenomenon is nonetheless consistent in the symptoms reported. At some point after jump, the victim is observed to exhibit very strange behavior. The victim walks with an unusual gait, as if he or she has to think about every step. Hand coordination is similarly impaired; the victim appears to need to watch the movement of his hands to reach and grasp items. Aphasia is also present, the victim's speech garbled and unintelligible. Initial symptoms pass within a day, but the victim emerges with complete amnesia, unable to recall who or where he/she is.

The victim thereafter exhibits extreme curiosity about the ship and its equipment, and about the people around him/her; not infrequently, the victim must be confined and sedated to prevent becoming an irritant to other passengers. These second-stage symptoms invariably end when the ship emerges from jump space, with the victim making a full recovery but reporting no memory of the events aboard ship. Instead, the victim reports experiencing a long dreamlike period characterized by sensations that are described as neither sight, sound, nor other normal sense but instead something for which the victim has no words. The victim also reports a sense of loss of control over his/her thoughts, as if his/her memories and knowledge were being called up at random by some outside force, and a disturbing sense that his/her body was somehow strange and different.

Item: the temporal anomaly experienced by free trader Gilded Lily

Gilded Lily left Atenezo bound for Naadi in Corridor sector with a full complement of passengers. She was posted as Missing when she failed to arrive, and when subsequent inquiry revealed she had not arrived at Munhofen, Getz or Enrick Down, she was reposted as Missing/possible misjump. When she arrived at Naadi two months late with crew and passengers alive and well, Imperial authorities impounded ship, crew, and passengers for investigation. Neither passengers nor crew recalled spending more than a week in jump space, but certain elements of cargo clearly showed the passage of time, and the computer record appeared to have been deliberately blanked during the unaccounted period. The official finding of a hoax for the purpose of hiding unknown activities remains hotly contested by crew and passengers alike.

Item: the loss of Imperial courier Quicksilver.

According to the official Imperial account, Quicksilver was a jump-6 naval courier that misjumped while on a jump from Depot in Mekee subsector to Core in Core sector in 1101. The ship arrived instead at Shaak with no surviving crew.

Unofficially, Quicksilver was rumored to be testing a Jump-7 drive. The inquest into the loss was closed to the public, unusual for a navy ship on a routine assignment. It subsequently issued a finding of misjump and life support failure due to unrelated mechanical failures, but efforts by news organizations to obtain the full report met a brick wall: all matters involving the Quicksilver had been classified, with no explanation given. One naval ratings who boarded the ship told a local news reporter that they'd found no crew, no bodies, no blood or evidence of violence; the navy denied the report, but those ratings and junior officers associated with the rescue were thereafter unavailable and very soon afterward transferred to assignments in other sectors.

Subsequently, the Imperium terminated all funding for research into jump beyond jump-6, declaring that controlled higher jump ratings were not possible due to unavoidable random fluctuations at the quantum level that limited the accuracy of the drive systems. Private research efforts were also quietly terminated; publicly, the enterprises declared that they did not feel continued research was worthwhile in view of the data released by Imperial researchers, but privately there were assertions of fierce political arm-twisting.

Item: the strange appearances

Depot/Corridor Sector is a closely guarded base, as one would expect for a vital Imperial base on a dangerous frontier. Ships come and go only by Imperial leave and only along the routes permitted by Imperial authorities. So, in 1105, when an unknown vessel appeared suddenly near one of the system's gas giants, Imperial forces were quick to respond. When that same vessel appeared to on sensors to gradually shrink and disintegrate, leaving no trace of itself by the time Imperial warships arrived to investigate, Imperial officials were both baffled and embarrassed. The official record blames a sensor glitch, but rank-and-file personnel on the responding ships remain adamant that something was out there.

Depot is only one of several Imperial worlds reporting such phenomena. A large sphere appeared from jump space near Elazair in the Regina system, then as quickly disappeared, but with no trace of jump-flash or other indication of having departed by jump. A vessel of unknown type appeared suddenly near Mora but was gone without trace by the time customs ships arrived to investigate. A pair of small objects appeared from jump space and then disappeared without obvious reason near the gas giant in the Esalin system, triggering a brief diplomatic crisis between the Imperial and Zhodani forces stationed there. Though such incidents are exceedingly rare, they remain unexplained.
Comments made are for the purpose of offering alternative campaign settings for consideration. The writer acknowledges that Traveller is intended to emulate certain common science fiction tropes and that, in the course of emulating those tropes and providing a better playing experience, some liberties must be taken with science. No statement by the writer should be interpreted as constituting a criticism of the game on that basis ... except for that bit about Virus. Dude, really?!
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