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New Project: The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook

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New Project: The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook


I know I've already got about three month's worth of new projects in the pipeline, but it's never too early to plan ahead for future releases, especially when you're putting together a whole gaming company solo. As the title suggests, This new project is a resource for players getting into the world of Hard SF space travel.


What The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook is about


Unlike soft SF, which draws a lot of it's spaceflight inspiration from modern naval tradition and a huge amount from WWII, Hard SF gets its impetus from the real worlds of physics and the historical precedents of NASA, Roscosmos, Jaxa, ESA, et al. This is the world of hard evidence, gained through fifty years of manned space missions. From Yuri Gagarin's risk-taking flight to answer whether or not human could survive in space at all, to the heroic efforts on the part of Gene Kranz's Tiger Team during Apollo 13, to the loss of two Space Shuttles and the success of the ISS, each mission into the black has given us the knowledge of what it would take to survive, function and thrive in the most hostile of environments, space.


Thing is, unless you're addicted to documentaries, you may not know just what they do up there.


For example, how does a Command Module execute an orbital rendezvous? What does it take to accomplish a space walk? If there is a fire in free-fall, can you even see it? For those of us gamers who really want to embrace the Hard SF experience, these are important questions. The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook would be an attempt to answer them.


How would The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook be set up?


This is all in the very early planning stages, so bear with me. I'm currently thinking about dividing this guide into several chapters. There would be a chapter on Player Characters which would give several rules options for making effective astronauts for the game, including Story Traits that account for personality. Personality combinations are extremely important when planning a space mission, and every gamer knows that personality conflict can but an entire campaign at risk.


Just what do you roll for that?

Another chapter would cover space procedures, such as the aforementioned orbital rendezvous and such. These entries would explain the procedure, so the GM can give effective descriptions during play, and include rules for running the maneuver, with difficulties, consequences for failed Skill Checks and so on.


There would also be a section on "Damage Control" which would give stats and descriptions of the many disasters that befall space travelers. Things like debris strikes and decompression, patching the hull, fires, smoke, and so on. These entries would of course have stats for the GM as well as recommendations for what Skill Checks should be performed.


There should also be a Chapter about human factors; not just personality conflicts, but disease and illness, injury, and psychological problems having to do with isolation and the monotony of life in space.


Is The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook something you want?


What do think RocketFans? It this kind of supplement, an index of Hard SF elements in game play, something you are interested in. One of the advantages of such a supplement would be that it is not setting specific; physics is physics, and any Hard SF campaign would benefit with a breakdown of just what's involved in the real world of space travel.

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I would think, considering your setting is "hard sci fi", that something like this is a must. This is the sort of thing that would be great to include in games when you're running the physics of spaceflight as you are. So I say "go for it!"


As far as my own tastes, I'm just not that into the hard and crunchy sci-fi, so I'd personally pass on ever using it in my games. But I think the information is pretty interesting (as I follow astronomy and space flight as a personal hobby), so it would be decent for pure information if you did it correctly.

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After getting a lot of positive response on this project, I've decided to advance the publication date to February 16th. Below is a draft of the Manual's outline. Any and all input is welcome.


Astronaut Candidate's Handbook


(The “Pumpkin-suit's” Manual)


I. Introduction

A. Hard Science Fiction

B. About the Format

II. Training

A. Astronaut Specialities


ii. Engineering

iii. Life-Support

iv. Payload

III. Launch

A. Chemical Rockets

B. Catapult

C. Laser Propulsion


IV. Orbital Maneuvers

A. Finite Burn Trajectories

B. Impulsive Maneuvers

C. Non-impulsive Maneuvers

V. Rendezvous and Docking

A. Step-by-Step

B. Approach Methods

i. H-Bar

ii. R-Bar

iii. V-Bar

iv. Z-Bar


A. Spacewalks

i. Tethered

ii. Untethered

B. Body-walks

i. In atmosphere

ii. In Vacuum

C. Special Activities

i. Combat

ii. Construction

iii. Rescue

iv. Survival

VII. Damage Control

A. Hazards

i. Consumables Loss

ii. Decompression

iii. Electrical Failure

iv. Fire

v. Navigational Failure

vi. Power Failure

VIII. The Human Factor

A. Health Factors

i. Biological Factors

a) Bacterial and Viral

b) Environmental

c) Gravitational

ii. Radiation

a) Cosmic Background Radiation

b) Solar Flairs

c) Artificial Sources

B. Psychological Factors

i. Attention Tunneling

ii. Isolation Syndrome

iii. Personality Conflict

IX. Appendix: Templates and Prestige Classes

A. By Personality

B. By Specialty

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