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Planetary Survival

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 143
Related Media: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (novels), Lost in Space (TV series), The Martian (film and novel), Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite (novel)
In planetary-survival stories, the protagonists are either stranded on a remote and dangerous planet or they wander from planet to planet in a quest to return home. The PCs often span a range of classes—with combat-oriented soldiers, solarians, and vanguards protecting the cerebral mechanics, biohackers, and spellcasters—but share a common origin that you can generate using the background rules starting on page 9. Likewise, the PCs can have differing alignments, but they work together because they are all related, have shared goals, or are old friends.
A planetary-survival game—especially one in which the PCs are stranded on a single planet without access to a starship, perhaps alongside a large number of NPCs—can potentially evolve into a campaign where the characters explore and settle the planet. The PCs’ initial camp might eventually grow into a bustling settlement. In these cases, the PCs’ actions (or inaction) likely determine the accord and dominant alignments. The PCs could use the leadership system (page 100) to foster alliances with other settlers. In games like this, be sure to place many different biomes near to the PC settlement so they have a wide variety of new environments and challenges to face. You might make the prevalence of magic on the planet the opposite of what the PCs are used to; for example, they may come from a low-magic society, but their new home has high magic, and so some of the PCs discover that they have magical or supernatural abilities. Alternatively, the PCs come from a high-magic setting but are stranded on a low-magic world and must learn to make do without the ability to cast spells.
For campaigns in which the PCs are constantly on the move, their starship becomes their home base, and every different world they land on has new attributes, environments, and people. The biome inhabitants and adventure hook tables in Chapter 2 will help you prepare these new elements every session. As the PCs use up their initial store of resources, they will need to discover and extract resources from the planet they find themselves stranded on. This can lead to technology levels changing over time; consult the optional tech categories on page 126 when the PCs, for example, have no way to repair their disintegrator weapons, but find crystals that allow them to develop new laser weaponry instead.
One of the best things about a planetary-survival story is that it has a clear conclusion. When the evolving story of PCs stranded on an alien world—or traveling the stars in search of home—starts to wear thin, you can end the campaign in a satisfying manner as the PCs finally find a way off the world, whether they used problem-solving, found some miraculous technology that brings them home, or managed to signal a passing rescue ship. You can even run planetary survival as one part of a longer campaign, in which the heroes begin in some other genre, are stranded on a dangerous planet for a few levels, and then escape to seek vengeance on whoever stranded them in the first place.