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Sandbox Adventures / Setting Design

Create The Pcs’ Home Base

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 133
So where do you start when you’re ready to begin building your settings? Start where the player characters start! They’re going to need some kind of home base, which allows you to restrict the sandbox to a manageable size. The following are some broad examples of some types of home bases.
Enormous Starship: The PCs’ base is a battleship, generation ship, or exploration cruiser that’s capable of Drift travel. The PCs might have their own personal craft, such as a fighter, shuttle, or exploration vessel, but the craft is usually not capable of Drift travel. After the PCs explore a solar system, the main starship can move on to a new location. With this option, your setting can include multiple star systems while still being manageable.
Settlement: The PCs live on a world that is the central focus of their adventures, and their central hub is a settlement on the world. They probably have a starship, and it may have a Drift engine, but most of their journeys away from their home world involve bringing back resources or investigating mysteries that directly affect their home planet.
Space Station: The PCs’ are based on a space station orbiting a celestial body or in deep space. Exploration can take place around the star system where the PCs are stationed, while starships visit the space station for trade, diplomacy, or something more nefarious. The PCs might have access to a Drift-capable starship that allows them to travel to distant worlds when necessary.
A home base should provide everything the PCs need at low level, such as shops or suppliers to hawk weapons and armor, a medical bay or hospital for when the PCs are injured, and workshops for PCs who need to rebuild a drone or craft a computer. There should be some kind of rumor mill—a place where the PCs can learn about new adventure opportunities. A rumor mill could be a cantina, a mercenary job board, an infosphere chat channel, someone’s conspiracy wall, or something else, as long as the PCs can readily access it. Its also likely to contain places of worship. Be sure to include representation for a couple of factions, such as a corporate office, arcane library, or smugglers’ den. The Settlement Toolbox on page 150 and the Starship Toolbox on page 152 help in creating settlements or starships to use as the PCs’ home base.
You don’t need to figure out every aspect of the home base before you start playing—just hash out details that might be immediately relevant. Start with a couple of key NPCs who are certain to interact with the player characters; the NPC Toolbox on page 148 provides resources for creating such NPCs. Give each of these NPCs a couple of simple, clearly identifiable traits that PCs will notice after just a few minutes of conversation.
Finally, you’ll need a map of the home base. You can create your map however you’d like, from drawing it by hand to creating it with a computer program. You can also consider adding multiple locations on the map that the PCs can detail as they explore their home base.