Amber Zone - Diseases and Quarantine Adventure Nuggets

Last Updated 24 October 2003.

1999 #1068

Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 01:18:34 PST
From: Leonard Erickson
Subject: Re: diseases and quarantine

In mail you write:
>> From: "Doug wilder"
>> With all this talk of diseases parasites and vermin of all sorts. I got to
>> wondering about what sorts of quarentine proceedures would be needed at a
>> starport. It seems to me that in every game i ever played nobody ever
>> instituted quarenteen proceedures. I mean even here on good old earth
>> countries dont allow plants or animals to travel from one country to the
>> other with out them.
> You're right; Traveller just doesn't address this issue (so far as I
> know), not even with a handwave. I did read an article in I think
> Challenge Magazine dealing with quarantine and decontamination
> procedures experienced by interstellar travellers in the 2300 AD
> universe. I'd expect that the procedures would be less invasive and
> delaying at Imperial tech levels. On the other hand, many worlds are at
> very low tech levels and have only rudimentary starports. Those worlds
> are at great risk of all sorts of disease and ecological problems if
> they don't institute appropriate procedures.

Well, not many cargos are live animals/plants, so the quarantine is easily "handwaved" as being handled at the destination.

For most human diseases, the week in jump is a nice quarantine period, as it gives enough time that many diseases will start to show.

BTW, if you want to scare the *hell* out of your players, have a passenger get *spectacularly* ill just after they enter jump. Say, bleeding from all over the place (look up the symptoms of ebola Zaire). And have the most likely diagnosis be something that goes from exposure to death in less than 7 days. With it being a virtual certainty that everyone on board has been exposed.

Maybe it's something else with similar symptoms. Maybe some of the PCs have acquired an immunity due to something *else* they've had in the past (which, btw would be *valuable* information!). Or maybe the GM is going to let them all die.

Highports and isolated downports are best for quarantine purposes. Though I'd expect that anybody shipping live animals or plants, or "unprocessed" animal or plant materials (stuff that could act as a vector for diseases) will need special permits, and/or be required to dock at a quarantine station rather than the regular port.

A good location would be on an airless world with decent gravity, though with CG and the like, gravity isn't a likely problem. Asteroids are another good location, with seperate orbital facilities around the mainworld being an ok, though not as good choice. Lower tech worlds may have an isolated island, or a facility in a "wasteland" as the quarantine facility.

I'd think that having the facility in a different orbit than the mainworld would be a plus. Why? Because it'd take yet another week for anything to get to the mainworld from there. And it'd mean that you'd have to jump in to a point where yyou *couldn't* "accidentally" skip quarantine.

Any cargo requiring quarantine is a real *pain*. Which is why they aren't seen often, but can command *high* rates when they are seen.

For passengers, and more normal cargos, the exit controls at the extrality boundary of the port are *usually* adequate. Though sometimes there will be a bit of a panic when a newly arrived ship bears the news that the previous ship from its port of origin may have carried people getting out one step ahead of a declaraction of an epidemic.

If an epidemic/pandemic is sweeping a planet, the port will usually seal the boundary until it can be determined if anyone in the port is infected. Also, ships that have departed, but haven't jumped yet will be called back as part of the quarantine measure. Failing to heed the recall is illegal, but many a ship has claimed to have not heard the recall if they were close to jump.

Ships will be kept in orbit until either the incubation period of the disease has passed, or everyone on board has been tested (assuming a test exists). The highport and other space facilities will be isolated as well. So will the downport. Though if disease breaks out anywhere, that facility *can* contact or\ther infected facilities. But doing so extends the quarantine, until there have been no cases for (incubation period + X) days in *any* of the facilities that have been in contact.

There *are* methods for transferring food and other supplies without breaking quarantine. But even so, due to nasty incidents in the past, they count as "contact" for the vessel/facility *receiving* the supplies. So they are restricted to emergencies. Basicly, you "drop off" a load (in orbit) or use some sort of rentry kit like method (for orbit to ground). So the senders can't get anything from *you*, but you are still at risk from *them*.

BTW, this is a good use for the variation in jump duration. Have the players' ship leave just before quarantine is declared, and take a longer than usual time for jump (say 8 days), and have a ship carrying news of the quarantine make a "fast" passage (say, 6 days). So the players' ship arrives top a rather "warm" reception. :-)

Leonard Erickson (aka Shadow) <--preferred <--last resort

Return to Top of Page