Game Prep: The Verge, 1×04

We didn’t have a game last week due to some absences. Two of the players were out for Valentine’s stuff, which led to a third player making similar plans with his wife, so no game. So we’re supposed to pick up this Friday with the big fight.

As stated over on the Portals site for the game, I’ve posted a player handout image for the NPCs that are going to be present. I’m planning on handing these out to the players so they’re running them instead of me. With the declaration that “safeties off” in this game, I’m not very worried about swarming the group and killing off some characters.

I’ve also got a couple of other elements that I’m planning on introducing that will first appear in this session. First, the Anya PC has a background that her dad is an earl who was elevated in rank by the duke for his part in restoring the duke’s son to health due to having access to some alien tech, so I decided that he used it on her first and that she’s actually a very advanced synthetic who was based on his daughter (she might even have said daughter’s brain). This is obviously similar to the plot line surrounding Two (Portia Lin) in the Dark Matter television show, and I’m planning on beginning that during this fight by having one of the moorwen smash through the “defenses” and likely knock her down, but then sniff her and turn away, as if she is not perceived as ‘food.’ I fully expect the player(s) to be confused about this.

Second, the Shrike will make an appearance, though only Ilik is able to detect it due to his psionic abilities. I was going to hint that there is a telepathic entity controlling it, but I’m likely to discard that option because it’s more interesting if the Shrike’s interest is completely unknown and unknowable. As in the Hyperion Cantos series that I’m ripping the Shrike off of, it moves outside of time … or, more accurately, is moving out of phase so it appears to be moving so quickly that it might as well be invisible, so when it enters the mess, Ilik will have an opportunity to test for Awareness using normal rules; I think he’s at -2 … although, I may also need to check to determine whether he’s at additional penalties for current term status. Probably not. Regardless, the Shrike shows up to kill a couple of the creatures and possibly some of the NPCs for … reasons, and will note that Ilik is able to sense it so it’ll blur to him – remember: time has slowed down so Ilik’s brain is sort of overheating as he instinctively tries to compensate – and pick him up by the throat, resulting in some bruises later that match those of the NPC whose death kicked off this entire mess. The Shrike will examine him for a moment, then toss him aside and Ilik will get the feeling that it is actively seeking a very specific target (though he can’t say why he knows this.) Just typing this, I’m actually thinking it might abscond with one of the NPCs instead of murdering them – I’m actually leaning toward it being either Karine, who crashed with the PCs, or Emiri, who is the youngest. Probably Emiri.

After the Shrike departs, the fight with the moorwen is likely over in one way or another … although … hmm. Maybe I should give Ilik the chance to do something psionically? Something that causes the Shrike to momentarily manifest before nearly everyone? Going to have to play that by ear. I do kind of like the idea of it appearing for a fraction of a second in the middle of the scrum so not everyone actually sees it, and then is gone … as is all of the moorwen bodies and the corpses of any deceased or unconscious NPCs. Yeah. That sounds suitably ‘what the fuck just happened?’

Following this mess, PCs (and possibly any of the surviving partisans) will be extracted by rescue craft – totally thinking of revealing that an entire day has been lost to the PCs and the rescue craft was just about to depart when their beacon popped back up. They’ll be taken to Central where their injuries are treated, and they can learn some additional stuffs:

  • Everyone in the system is pissed off at Houses Malik and Nelson for this mess; it appears that a void fight between two broke out and promptly spilled into a much larger conflict. Both sides are blaming the other side for starting it.
  • Ilik will catch a recording of the duke’s daughter, Princess Natalia, speaking to condemn this conflict, but what he finds most interesting is that he recognizes one of her handmaids as one of his closest friends from his time as a student at the psionic community … but she’s supposed to be dead!
  • I want to include the other PCs in this somehow as well, but am still formulating options there.

While in Central, the PCs can locate the ship and then proceed into the stuff mentioned in gameprep for 1×03 which utilizes chapter four of the Islands in the Rift adventure from Mongoose. Rather than simply spring the explosive charge idea (stolen from Caliban’s War) on them wholesale, I’m going to give them the opportunity to locate the charge before they dust off but I need to ensure that I don’t ask them too many leading questions to hint that something bad is coming. Ideally, the charge detonating while they’re in space would be the perfect cliffhanger ending for this session…