I ran another session of Stars Without Number set in Persephone Sector this past weekend. The heroes explored an ancient, pre-Scream lab complex beneath the surface of a desert planet. It was essentially a sci-fi dungeon-crawl. I designated one of the rooms as an artificial garden—a large chamber full of overgrown plants, trees, and vegetables, diligently tendered by a stalwart little gardening robot for the past 500 years.
Originally, I had intended this room to just be a bit of flavor. No monsters, traps, or treasure, just an unusually pleasant and safe place in the middle of a dangerous locale, as well as a shout out to Silent Running. Something changed, though, as the heroes explored the garden, looking for anything of value. It suddenly occurred to me no one in Persephone Sector has tasted strawberries, apples, even brussels sprouts, in 500 years. “The stuff growing here,” I told them, “it's is old-Earth fruits and vegetables. It's fucking valuable.” The players were suddenly excited. They came into the ruins expecting to get all their money off artifacts and data. Instead, they stumble into something unexpected and new.
I love this part of GMing, when sudden inspiration hits you in the middle of the session, when things suddenly “click” together and something new emerges about the shared universe that was really just sitting there all along, ready to be discovered.
And the PCs decided to keep the gardening 'bot.