The Orbital Elevator, stretching from an artificial island south of Singapore 36,000 kilometers up to geosynchronous orbit, is one of humanity's great engineering achievements. Capsules leave the ground terminal every two hours, and the whole journey up the long carbon-fiber cable takes two days.
Each capsule is a self-contained spaceship, with lounges at the top and bottom, a dining room amidships, and 64 little compartments on 8 decks. You never know who you're going to meet . . .
ENCOUNTERS ON THE ORBITAL ELEVATOR
Roll 1d20 if the characters are moving about the capsule interacting with others, 1d10 if they remain in their own compartment.
- Roll Twice and Combine
- Plot-advancing encounter: Someone or something related to the reason you're aboard this elevator in the first place.
- Alien: It's from outside the Solar System, and it's heading home now. But it left one small bit of business unfinished down on Earth, and is looking for someone who can take care of it.
- Flying Unicorn: An asteroid-mining tycoon returning to the Belt is taking along a genetically-engineered pet for her children. It's a 20-pound unicorn with wide feathery wings, silky rainbow fur, big dewy eyes, and a mean streak a mile wide. Now it's loose and must be caught, but every hair on its body is probably worth a year's salary if it's harmed.
- Helpless Traveler: He's never been outside the atmosphere before and needs help with everything, and somehow he's decided that you're his personal lifeguard and instructor.
- Hunter Drone: A mechanical spider the size of a housecat, equipped with advanced face and voice recognition and a built-in poison dart gun. It's hunting for you, either for something you did or something someone thinks you did. There may be more.
- Retired Space Pirate: He's traveling incognito, of course, and for some reason he's taken a liking to you. Until the capsule reaches the station at geosynch, you've got a friend with plenty of cash, a lot of practical knowledge, and a well-used laser pistol in his boot.
- Solar Storm! The capsule is bathed in radiation from a solar flare. Everyone takes refuge in the "storm shelter" compartments at the center of each deck — unless you're willing to risk radiation exposure to sneak around when nobody's watching.
- Spy: A Martian agent who has been warned that the authorities are waiting for him (or her) up top, so he's picked you as the best person to impersonate.
- Unscheduled Stop: The elevator slows to a halt, halfway between the Earth's surface and the orbital terminal. The PA system says it's a "routine safety stop" but someone's using the airlock. What's going on?
- Concession Stand: It's no bigger than a closet, and the plump purple-haired old lady who runs it takes up most of the room. But it's amazing what she's got for sale: spacesickness pills, first-aid kits, power packs, hull patching tape . . . whatever you need most, she's got it.
- Coolant Leak: One compartment is full of droplets of flammable coolant. Any spark could turn the whole place into a bomb powerful enough to destroy the whole capsule.
- Face at the Window: You just saw it out of the corner of your eye, and when you turned to look it was gone, but you could swear you saw someone outside the window — ten thousand miles above the atmosphere!
- Hostile-Environment Section: This whole deck is configured to reproduce conditions deep in the atmosphere of Jupiter. A Jovian envoy is heading home, uncomfortably squeezed into a single deck of the elevator capsule and feeling irritable.
- Mesmerizing Lecturer: She's talking about the spiritual implications of space travel, and she's secretly using psychic powers or advanced subliminal technology to make her talk absolutely hypnotic — so hypnotic that her assistant can move through the audience searching pockets and wallets without being noticed.
- Party Suite: There's plenty of booze and expensive psychoactive substances, and a dozen young people with someone else's money.
- Sealed Compartment: The door is not just locked, it's bolted shut and there's a sign reading "DANGER" in big unfriendly letters. What do you suppose is in there?
- Tense Standoff: There are four people in one compartment, all pointing guns at each other. One of them is clutching a briefcase, another is holding a small computer memory stick in her free hand.
- Terrorists: They're planning to sabotage the capsule and need to plant one of their demolition charges in your compartment.
- Tracks/aftermath (reroll)
SITUATIONS ABOARD THE ORBITAL ELEVATOR
Roll 1d6 for each situation, then roll on the table above to figure out who is involved.
- A desires B
- A wants to capture B
- A wants B dead
- A wants to go somewhere
- A wants to solve a mystery
- A wants X