All We Are is Dust in the Void

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by Tom Verreault

recent article came to my attention concerning the toxicity of lunar dust and the potential hazards of living and working in the lunar environment. 

http://www.universetoday.com/96208/the-moon-is-toxic/

The article presented three distinct hazards that I have labeled Lunar Lung, Lunar Blindness, and Lunar Rash.  What follows is an explanation of the hazard and the possible effects in game terms.  These effects apply to working on any small airless body.

Lunar dust is very fine and very sharp edged.  Its abrasiveness is due to the lack of exposure to erosion forces that Earth dirt experiences.  Micro-gravity environments enhance its ability to float and accumulate on space-suited characters.  The Apollo astronauts were plagued by suit bound dust during their brief visits to the Moon and it wore through three layers of Kevlar on one astronaut's boots.

Lunar outposts and ships touching down on lunar bodies must employ strict decon procedures to protect their crew and equipment.  Failure to do so will lead to possible health effects for those exposed and possible damage to the environmental systems of the ship or outpost.

Lunar Outposts

Lunar outposts face a never ending battle against the dust.  Automatic systems like cleaning robots work continuously and life support systems and air filtration require continuous overhaul.  Even then, the crew faces the toxic results of lunar dust.  The following table lists the chances of a health or equipment problem for a lunar outpost based on the weeks since the last overhaul of the life support’s air filtrations system.  Roll once per GST week in game.

Weeks Since Last Overhaul of LS

Chance of Problem

1 week

10%

2 weeks

20%

3 weeks

40%

4 weeks

80%

Ships

Ships experience the same problems when their crews visit a lunar environment and return to the ship.  The following table is the chance of a health or equipment problem for a starship or shuttle with limited contact with a lunar body.  Use the table for an outpost is the contact is significant.  Roll after the first contact and again after each week of extended contact.

Weeks Since Last Overhaul of LS

Chance of Problem

1 week

5%

2 weeks

10%

3 weeks

20%

4 weeks

40%

Various decontamination procedures can be employed to reduce the chance of a problem.  The type of decon procedure will modify the above percentages.  Water decon is the most effective but also the most expensive as it requires a doubling of the cost of the ship or outpost’s life support equipment in cost and mass without actually increasing the performance of the system.  Next is a compressed air or sonic system paired with a vacuum and filtration system which increases LS equipment mass and cost by 50% without increasing performance.

Other Modifiers

Decon Procedure

Modification

water based shower

-25%

sonic or compressed air

-10%

The amount of traffic entering and leaving a ship or outpost can modify the above rolls.

Air Lock Traffic

Modification

Trivial

+0%

Light

+20%

Medium

+40%

Heavy

+80%

Consequences

The number of problems occurring is equal to the number of weeks since the last overhaul of the life support system.  The crew of an outpost is trained to live with the problem of dust and is conditioned to avoid it, making it more likely that the problem afflicts equipment.  On a ship it’s the other way around, while the crew will be aware of the problem, the reality of it will not hit home until someone is suffering ill effects from lunar dust.  Consult the following tables and all health effects are randomly assigned to crew members. 

Weeks since last LS overhaul

Outpost

Ship

Week 1

1E

1H

Week 2

1E & 1H

1E & 1H

Week 3

2E & 1H

1E & 2H

Week4

2E & 2H

2E & 2H

E=equipment problem, H=health problem

Die Result of 1d5

Equipment Malfunction

1

1 random Vacuum suit degraded, and must be preplaced

2

Air Lock seal not holding, clean and repair, 1-5 hours

3

 filtration clogged; LS system cut in half till repaired, 1-5 hours to repair

4

LS system breaks down, 2-10 hours repair

5

Referee choice, one piece of equipment malfunctions, referee determine repair time

 

Die Result of 1d5

Health Problem

1

problem caught early, no ill effects

2

lunar lung

3

lunar rash

4

lunar blindness

5

dust in face, 1 character with both lunar lung and blindness

Lunar lung is caused when dust particles are inhaled and damage the lung.  It cuts the character’s STA in half and enforces a pain penalty for all actions.  Standard treatment is First Aid subskill with a daily dose of Bio-cort for 1 week.  Condition is cured in a week, if treated daily.

Lunar rash is caused by dust particles irritating the skin.  The rash enforces the pain penalty of half STA without actually reducing STA.  Standard treatment is First Aid subskill with 1 dose of Bio-cort and clears in one day. 

Lunar blindness occurs when dust scratches the surface of the seeing organ, regardless of the species involved.  It is painful and damages eyesight.  Effects are pain penalty for all actions and any shooting by the character uses the range penalty for the next range band.  Standard treatment is First Aid subskill and a dose of Bio-cort once a day for a week.  Condition clears in one week with daily treatment.

The hypnotism subskill of the psych-social skill can be used to reduce pain penalties as per its description.