The TL;DR outline recap can be found here if one doesn’t want to listen to just under 4 hours.
As stated in the GM Notes on the recap, I was only partially satisfied, though I suspect that was probably due to my sense of nothing but chaos. I had an alternate ending in mind that, in retrospect, I probably should have gone with because it would have been a fantastic “WTF?” moment. More on that in the final thoughts section below.
Bouncing back and forth between the split up members of the crew worked fairly well for probably the first half of the session. How I did it for this was to have actual physical flash cards that I flipped over reminding me of who was active at that moment. When one group merged into another, I wrote the new people on one and tossed the card for the other. I was also fairly happy with the hanging plot threads that I intentionally left unanswered – several of the players were definitely interested in following up on them. The major threads that I threw in here:
- Who was actually behind this mess? Based on how it played out, few of the non-audience Players believe that it was actually a Ine Givar op.
- What was up with the ‘protomoss infected’ dudes? (I used the indoctrinated Cerebrus soldier from Mass Effect 3 as a visual.) And how did they get here?
- GM Note: This one went over the best, I think.
- Who is responsible for Edvard Leskinen’s murder?
- What’s up with the archduke’s proper identity since Sae has info indicating that the real Duke Norris died prior to the beginning of the Fifth Frontier War and was replaced?
This is where it starts to break down for me. I was so intent on trying to avoid letting this devolve into a tactical slugfest that I pushed the characters toward doing stuff that they might not have. It wasn’t quite a railroad, but there was that feeling near the end, especially the final ‘engagement’ when the PCs put into action their plan. This is especially true with J-Aris and getting him into the modified combat android chassis.
When I was working on the outline for this, I tried to intentionally avoid coming up with an expected resolution … and that lack of structure was probably why this felt so disjointed. I should have spent more time on making notes about exactly what was going on in the background instead of just having it in my head and rolling with it.
Too much of me trying to push toward a desired result despite me actively trying to avoid having a desire result. Which … gah. I wanted to end on a stronger note and instead, it just felt … blah.
As stated, I had an alternate ending in mind that I was almost loath to use because it would have left me in a very difficult position for season 5 but, in retrospect, I should have gone with it. I should have done the following for the conclusion instead of what I did (note that I did not have all of this planned out):
- J-Aris notes the presence of a major explosive in the building and can relate this to the other PCs. This becomes their target because … well, it’ll kill ’em all.
- This leads to a tactical encounter with the PCs versus a couple of the “protomoss-infected” Ine Givar soldier types who are trying to defend the location where the explosive is being assembled. These guys will be exceedingly tough – maybe Unliving at this point, but not zombies.
- Once the PCs have finally dropped the defenders, they enter to discover Buck’s former crewmate (who he met earlier) at the explosive. She’s unarmed and, upon their entry, would give them some sort of cryptic remark – something like ‘You cannot stop the work’ or something like that – before doing something to herself that causes a sort pulse-like visual effect that doesn’t actually explode. And then, her skin – just her skin; no bones or meat or blood – hits the ground.
- And then PC(s) have to deal with an explosive device that I could have them try to disarm via secret rolls … and then I end.
Luckily, this means I can still do this somewhere in season 5. In fact, I could possibly end the season with that if it works…
And yeah, I’ve already started brainstorming for the next season even though I’m done as GM for a while. Next up is Banestorm, I think…