A core part of the Thousand Worlds campaign is the Star Map. It is an exercise in deductive reasoning and delayed gratification. It is a puzzle intended to be solved over many sessions as the players strike out into the black and explore your universe. In this setting, the galaxy is in a dark age where interstellar travel is all but lost to a handful of people.
In this campaign-long puzzle, the players explore a sector of the galaxy, divided into four quadrants, in an effort to find all 33 inhabited star systems out of the vast expanse of 498 available star system.
Inhabited Worlds of the Man-Realm Sector (0,0 -500,500)
- Old Earth
- New Pittsburgh
Inhabited Worlds of the Fyndii Sector (500,0 – 1000,500)
- Jamison’s World
Inhabited Worlds of the Damoosh Sector (0,500 – 500,1000)
- Lost Colony: House of the Worm
- Lost Colony: Planetos
Inhabited Worlds of the Hrangan Sector (500,500 – 1000,1000)
- Old Hranga
- High Kavalaan
- Tober In The Veil
The campaign begins with a large starmap, such as shown below. The Game Master is to print out a large size version of this starmap, at least 24” on each side, and color in the stars based on the exhaustive lists provided below.
Behind the scenes, the Game Master populates this galactic sector with a scattering of inhabited planets. The players are to strike out into the galaxy, using clues accumulated through play (called ‘Galactic Location Cards’) to help deduce where the safe, inhabited worlds are located. Except for rare exception, each inhabited planet has two Galactic Location Cards that may be found in the campaign which hint at its location. There are also a series of Galactic Location Cards randomly shuffled in which eliminate potential star clusters as completely uninhabited. In this way, industrious players have two parallel avenues of deduction in finding their goal: direct Galactic Location Cards pointing to the correct answers, and indirect Galactic Location Cards excluding the incorrect answers. Puzzles are always harder to solve at the game table than the designer thinks, so it’s a good idea to have multiple avenues of investigation to prevent the game from stalling.
Visiting an uninhabited world always results in a dangerous, random encounter. Players are expected to use pure deductive reasoning in their efforts to suss out the locations of inhabited worlds. Skill checks and other game mechanics can be used to garner more Galactic Location Cards, but they should not be able to add any additional information on their own.
The design of the Galactic Location Cards is the meat of this mystery. Not only must the Galactic Locations Cards provide enough hints to get the players and story where you need them, but they must do so in a fun, creative, and varied way.
All Galactic Location Cards have been provided in the text at the very end of this post. Click on the full blog post to see the extensive listings of Galactic Location Cards, star clusters, stars within them, solar color, and where the inhabited worlds lie in wait.
Be open-handed with handing out these Galactic Locations. The players need a steady stream of new information to make meaningful choices and deduce where their next destination lies. The last thing your campaign needs is a boring, plodding session of trial and error. Exploring the galaxy should feel like a thrilling adventure in and of itself.