Dawson-2 - Banner - Large

Dawson-2 is a swampy planet perfect for starting a sci-fi adventure! Are you looking to start an OSR sci-fi campaign? This article is here to help!

This article is written as a starter scenario for OSR science fiction games. Specifically, it’s written for 3rddog’s Spacer, but it should work for any other OSR sci-fi system. The goal of this article is to give you an easy starting point for a campaign about exploring an unfamiliar galaxy where humans are not the ruling power.


200 years ago, a water world with a single continent was discovered by surveyors. Early scans showed very little accessible metal, but plenty of aquatic life and woody plants on the land. They named the system Dawson, and the planet Dawson-2. Settlement began a few decades later, with a settlement on the southern shore of the continent: Dawson City.

The settlement did well enough, exporting wood and fish oil to the broader galaxy as its population grew. Unfortunately, this prosperity was not to last. 100 years before the present day, a garbled emergency alert reached Dawson-2, calling for the emergency evacuation of all of Earth’s colonies and a return to the Sol System. Most of the population of Dawson City left, heading for the homeworld in every ship available.

Now, the population has dropped to 500, a mere quarter of its peak. The population has concentrated around the Civic Center building, on the southern shore, leaving a belt of rotting prefabricated houses between the populated area and the swamp beyond.

The inhabited area, or “the town” as the locals call it, consists mostly of prefabricated buildings just like the rotting area, though these have been kept in much better repair. To the west of the town, downwind, is a large concrete pad that once held a dozen space shuttles. Now, it is used to process fish.

Dawson City has a small harbor, sheltered by an artificial breakwater made of concrete tetrapods. Two fishing boats serve most of the town’s food needs.

To the north of the rotting prefabs is a freshwater swamp. Tall, sturdy trees grow out of this swamp, and mats of vegetation grow at water level around their trunks. These mats of vegetation can support a person’s weight, but little more.

Last night, something streaked through the sky above Dawson City and crashed into the swamp. Its impact was loud enough to wake the whole town, and your players will be playing the group of people willing to go check it out.

Dawson-2 - Additional Banner 1

Life in Dawson City

Growing up in Dawson isn’t much fun. Children spend their days in the Civic Center, learning age-appropriate lessons from old data-disks. Adults spend their time either working in the fishing industry or out logging in the swamp.

There isn’t much for entertainment, beyond gossiping and rewatching one of the 30 or so movies the town has disks of. The lively youth of the town spend a lot of their time exploring the old buildings in the rotting part of the city, digging around for anything worth salvaging or just lighting fires in the old intersections.

For teenagers, unique items of clothing are seen as status symbols. Company jackets from Apollo Surveying or anything with a ship’s name and patch on it are particularly prized.


The main form of overland transportation on Dawson-2 is shoes, but the early settlement effort did bring a few vehicles. The most prominent of these is the “Rovers,” six wheeled vehicles with fat tires and driver’s cab sitting over the front tires. The rest of the rover is covered by a flat bed with attachment points for equipment, allowing its capabilities to be radically changed based on the needs of the operation.

Rover 1 was used as the basis for the fishing ship Cuervo, doubling the size of Dawson’s fishing fleet.

Rover 2 was equipped with long-range surveying equipment. It was last seen heading into the plains to the west, presumed lost.

Rover 3 was abandoned after flipping onto its side deep in the swamp on a surveying mission. A basic toolkit and a chainsaw are still strapped to its flatbed.

Rover 4 was used as a donor for Rover 6, stripped almost entirely for parts and leaving only the basic frame and one of its doors.

Rover 5 was equipped with a heavy crane, and used primarily for construction. Unfortunately, it was lost in the swamp on its way to recover Rover 3, and was last seen with its nose completely buried in the muck.

Rover 6 is a cargo hauler equipped with small crane. Until recently, it was used to haul logs from the swamp, but its crane has broken down and no replacement parts are available.


Scale: Vehicle
Maneuvering: 13/+3,
Tactical: 10/+0
Armor/Shields: 0/0
Hull: 10
Quality: 6
Systems: None.
Weapons: Nothing.

The Civic Center

The Civic Center is a two-story tall wooden building in the center of Dawson. The western wing serves as the town’s school, and the east holds the town’s records. The second storey is dedicated to the mayor’s offices and council chambers. The records room has information on the fates of each of the rovers.

Notable People

Marja Getts, mayor. Getts is a short woman with dark hair and tan skin. She is missing two fingers on her left hand. She believes that whatever crashed in the swamp is just ancient space junk, and barely worth retrieving. She keeps a violin in her office and sometimes plays it at night.

Amelia “Amy” Matsuoka, logger. Amy is a tall, muscular woman with tan skin and short hair. She runs the town’s logging operations, sourcing wood for repairs, improvements, and so on. She’s grumpy at the best of times, but the recent breakdown of Rover 6’s logging crane has really put her in a mood. It’s still capable of driving through the swamp, but it’ll need some parts from Rover 5.

Joseph “Croc Joe” Tugushi, hunter. Croc Joe is a wiry man with dark skin and short, black hair. He disappears into the swamp for days at a time, and almost always comes back with a shock croc carcass or two for the town’s food storage. He doesn’t talk much, but he knows the swamp better than anyone.

Billy Tugushi, boat captain. Captain Billy manages the fishing boats of Dawson City, the Julio, and the Cuervo. As a result of his role, he’s an expert at building things out of scrap and repairing the unrepairable.

Dawson-2 - Additional Banner 2

The Swamp

North of Dawson City is a large freshwater swamp. It is filled with large, black trees with wide trunks and heavy limbs. Under the water lurk the infamous “Shock Crocs,” and perhaps other dangers.

The Electric Crocodiloid, or “Shock Croc,” is a species native to the swamps of Dawson-2. It resembles an Earth crocodile in many ways, including the terrifying teeth and thick hide. It does, however, differ in one important aspect: The Shock Croc can generate a substantial amount of electricity and discharge it when biting its prey. Patches along its neck glow blue when it is prepared to shock its prey. An adult can do this up to five times per day, but it takes a full minute to recharge between shocks. A juvenile can only shock prey once per day.

Shock Croc (adult)

HD: 2
AC: 13
Attack Bonus: 2
Damage: Bite: d6, Shock Bite: d8 and a TN 10 Constitution save to avoid being stunned for a turn.
Morale: 7

Shock Croc (juvenile)

HD: 1
AC: 13
Attack Bonus: 2
Damage: Bite: d4, Shock Bite: d6 and a TN 10 Constitution save to avoid being stunned for a turn.
Morale: 5

Dawson-2 - Additional Banner 3

Adventure: Small Town Bringdown

This is a starting adventure for a small party from a rural backwater in a science fiction setting. At the conclusion of the adventure, they will have a functioning spaceship whose original owners probably want it back.

Character Creation

This section is written assuming you’re using an OSR science fiction system using the classic six attributes. If you’re using something else, you’re going to have to do a bit of modification here.

Roll 3d6 six times and put the results down as your Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma in that order.

If the system you’re using is class-based, I recommend saving class selection for after this adventure. This is just your origin story.


You’ve got something useful laying around. Maybe you found it in an abandoned house, maybe it was a gift from your parents, maybe you stole it. Either way, roll a d8 and find out what you’ve got. You can trade with the other members of your party, if you’d like.

  1. Chainsaw. Dawson City was originally founded to export wood for ornamental and practical purposes, so there is a sizable supply of chainsaws laying around. What there isn’t, however, is spare chains. You’re lucky enough to have one with an intact chain, for now. Like most portable equipment, these run on charge cells. It still makes the classic “RRRRRRNG-DUH-DUH-DUH-DUH” noise.
  2. Club. A big ol’ piece of wood with a grip. It could be a hockey stick or a baseball bat if you like, or even a cricket bat, but the important thing is that it’s blunt and hurts if you get hit with it.
  3. Laser Rifle. The “Dawson Pattern” C-17 Laser Rifle is a standard civilian-grade laser rifle built with the absolute minimum metal parts. Only the barrel, firing assembly, charge cell, and trigger are made of metal. Everything else, including the trigger guard, is made of wood or leather. As a civilian-grade weapon, it is limited to one shot every six seconds, but the limiter can be bypassed if you know what you’re doing.
  4. Crowbar. An all-metal tool for prying, wedging, and breaking things. Also really great for hitting things hard.
  5. Heavy Jacket. A thick, leather-like jacket with the yellow Apollo Surveying logo on the back. Aside from looking cool, it also provides moderate protection against injury.
  6. Toolkit. A shoulder bag of tools and equipment for basic repairs. You’re not going to build a starship from scratch with these, but you’ve got enough gear to pull pieces off a vehicle or bolt things onto a vehicle.
  7. Portable computer. A rugged laptop-style computer transported to Dawson in the early colonization operations. Built for durability more than style, the only color it can display is orange. It comes with a suite of diagnostic software for heavy equipment and vehicles, and a copy of a block-stacking video game.
  8. First Aid Kit. Synthetic flesh spray, a skin stapler, and a bottle of sterilizing alcohol. Using this is never fun, but you’d rather have it than not.

After character creation, read out the following:

Growing up in Dawson City isn’t much fun. There are 30 movie holodisks in the Civic Center and you’ve seen almost all of them a dozen times each. The rotting abandoned buildings in the north of the town are a constant reminder that this place used to be something better, and used to be connected to a greater society beyond. You’ve dreamed of what those days were like and wished you lived then instead.

Last night, a streak of fire was spotted in the sky, followed by an incredibly loud boom in the swamp. Something has crashed there. Something from space. And you and your friends are going to be the first to find out what it is.

The party can either set out on foot, which takes an hour per hex, or try to get access to the only vehicle they know of: Rover 6, which can hold two people in its cabin, and is at the Lumber Yard. Information about the other rovers can be found at the Civic Center, or freely given by the DM if appropriate.

Trekking through the swamp takes roughly an hour per hex on foot, and half that in a rover. Roll on the encounter chart every time the party enters a new hex.

Encounter Chart:

1. The party hears a minor explosion or creak of metal in the distance, letting them know where the crashed ship is in relation to them.
2. Shock Crocs, two juveniles. Two adolescent shock crocs emerge from the water, eager to make a meal out of the party.
3. Shock Crocs, one adult, two juveniles. As above, but an adult joins the encounter after two rounds and attempts to interpose itself between the party and its offspring.
4. Abandoned Equipment: Roll on the Equipment chart to see what junk somebody else left behind.
5. (Ignore if traveling in a vehicle) A random party member trips on a submerged tree branch and takes 1d3 damage.
6-8. Nothing.

Map Key:

S: Crashed Ship

L: Lumber Yard, where Rover 6 and Amy Matsuoka are.

C: Civic Center, where the rover records and Mayor Getts are.

3: Rover 3.

5: Rover 5.

Each hex represents about an hour of travel on foot, or half an hour by rover.

Crashed Ship: The Kreuz

Dawson-2 - Additional Banner 4

The Kreuz is an old scout ship, retooled into a goods hauler. One of its engines is visibly smoking and its nose is under the water. Airlocks on the port and starboard sides are marked with red paint. The Kreuz has a pair of concealed forward-firing laser weapons, but no other armaments.

There are five corpses inside the Kreuz, all of which are identical: Men with black hair, pale skin, and brown eyes. They each wear identical uniforms: Blue coveralls with a black square made up of four smaller squares on the shoulders. There are no name tags on the suits or any other object inside the ship. They do, however, each have a wristband with a round piece of metal embedded into the underside, labeled one through five. These men are clones, employees and property of the Kreuz Merchant Company. One corpse is in the cargo bay, and the rest are on the bridge.

The damage to the Kreuz’s bridge is minor. The scanning controls have a noticeable head-shaped dent in the console, but it still mostly works. A substantial piece of the underside of the helm controls has been crudely cut out, revealing that a module designed to bypass the authentication system has been installed. In simpler terms, this spaceship has been hotwired.

Repairing The Kreuz

Despite the severe damage to the crew, the ship’s condition is not too bad. All it needs is a few engine parts that can be harvested from a rover, and some patching on the hull. If the party managed to borrow Rover 6, they could simply cannibalize parts from it and get the ship working that way (though this would make them jerks, as it would make it completely inoperable) but if they didn’t, they’ll have to salvage parts from the other rovers in the swamp.

They should also probably do something with the dead bodies.

Once the ship has been repaired and restarted, holographic screens light up at each station, showing information on recent travels, ports of call, and so on. According to the records, this ship had a substantial malfunction while traveling from “Breshan” to “Chendatune.” The name Breshan would be recognizable to whichever party member has spent the most time reading about the colonization era, but Chendatune is unfamiliar.


While Spacer was my primary reference point for the mechanics, this scenario should work for Stars Without Number, X-Plorers, or White Star with minimal difficulty. Adapting it for Cepheus Engine will be somewhat harder, but definitely in the realm of workable. Regardless of what system you end up using, I hope you and your players enjoy it!

Let me know below if you’d be interested in more starter scenarios like this, or a continuation of this adventure!

Map & Asset Downloads

We recommend these maps and assets…

Support the Creators

Former esports wannabe, current TTRPG streamer and TTRPG creator interviewer. I like science fiction and I have a soft spot for licensed tabletop RPGs. You can find all the campaigns I’m in and interviews I’ve done over on YouTube.

Garmbreak1 Display Picture

You can also further support our talented token artists by buying them a cup of coffee!

Shock Croc
Buy David Wilson a coffee

Mayor Getts
Buy Hammertheshark a coffee


We put out new content like this almost every week! If you’d like to keep up, here are all the ways that you can do it, be it on social media or with our email newsletter:

About the author


Former esports wannabe, current TTRPG streamer and TTRPG creator interviewer. I like science fiction and I have a soft spot for licensed tabletop RPGs. You can find all the campaigns I'm in and interviews I've done over on YouTube.

Leave a Comment

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Related Posts