GamePrep and “Don’t Call It Writer’s Block”

Yeah, I know. I suck. I should have updated long ago. But I didn’t. Because I suck. So I’m going to try and make up for it with a crazy long post…

Regardless, we’re up to session 5 of the second adventure … which has completely gone off into undiscovered country for me. The original plan was to just use the factory assessment from Beltstrike but the more I read of it, the more bored I was with it, so I significantly curtailed that and proceeded directly into the second chapter while simultaneously mixing in stuff from the Starfinder Adventure Path #1, Incident at Absalom Station. The players didn’t really bite any of the dangling plots that I had out there – mostly my fault because I just didn’t handle it well enough – and ended up obtaining some cargo & passengers (wherein we quickly realized that needs to be automated better in some capacity.) Along the way, passenger related shenanigans ensued – I was quite pleased with that, to be honest – but they’ve just arrived at their destination, the system homeworld of Elpis.

And this is where the trouble begins. I setup some things at the end of the session per PC … well, per PC that cooperated:

  • Anya’s dad’s butler is waiting for her, carrying word that dear old dad very much wishes to speak to her.
  • Ilik, while going through customs, found himself face-to-face with his Enemy who is also going through customs…
  • Korbin was invited to a small, intimate gathering of nobles by one of the passengers, Marcus St. George, Lord Feri.
  • And Rostya observed two members of his Collective special forces unit, Havoc Squad, somewhere they shouldn’t & decided to trail them.

Baefre observed the very prejudiced and anti-Taareh mindset of the Elpis Highport, and decided to stay at the ship rather than seek shenanigans. (The nerve!) Which leaves me with a mixed-up marshmallow mess that is my own fault. I’m ultimately planning the Korbin angle to lead into adventure 3, which will be a reskinned version of The Dying Ship (albeit with something other than djinn in it), but beyond that …

Luckily (I suppose?) we’re on a couple week hiatus – some players missed last week due to familial obligations, and some players are going to miss this week for the same; I think we’re back to normal on the 29th? Maybe we’ll be able to get back to face-to-face gaming then instead of using Fantasy Grounds and TeamSpeak.

A couple of thoughts that have occurred to me that I’m looking at implementing:

  • Both Anya and Korbin will end up at Lord Feri’s shindig, the latter because he was invited and the former due to her dad guilt-tripping her into attending which means Korbin will at least learn that Anya’s dad is a baron. The fact that Anya’s dad is attending at all means that Marcus St. George is, at the very least, courting the duke’s side of things.
  • Rostya’s player decided early on that his character is former special forces … unfortunately, his character is also a complete moron (INT 4) and SF doesn’t have morons in their ranks. Originally, I was leaning toward doing a Fight Club thing where he had a split personality, but now I’m leaning more toward it being a Total Recall thing where his natural INT is something like 8 (at the minimum) and his current personality is due to some overlay programming. I’ve also been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic and in the Imperial agent storyline, there’s a plot where the character has ‘trigger words’ that activate some programming. I’m thinking of implementing that as well to highlight that the Collective didn’t entirely trust him (or his fellow soldiers) to begin with. Because they suck.
  • I desperately need to get Baefre involved in some capacity. The player had established with me that he’s still sending reports to the PKF about the stuff he’s observed and is seeing. This leads me to a decent possibility of having him be contacted back by them and asked to resolve a situation for them; that situation could end up being the same one that Rostya is entering, only from a different angle.
  • Ilik I’m not worried about because the player will find some way to inject himself into at least one of the plot lines at work … or, knowing him, spin off into a third one that no one anticipated all while giggling at how badly he’s upset my carefully laid plans.

So I have two major components at play here – the Party and the Spy Game. The party likely requires less planning since both involved players are in the nobility due to circumstances outside their control and mostly don’t want to be there, but I do want to bring in some elements:

  • Anya’s dad is a super-smart nerd and is very poorly equipped to handle this whole political maneuvering thing. She should note this very quickly and realize he’s mostly here as a prop for another higher ranking noble to explain sciencey things. He (her dad) also doesn’t want to be here.
  • Princess Natalia, the duke’s daughter and likely heir, will sweep into the gathering for a time, interact with everyone (especially Sir Korbin, who she is fond of because he saved her life), then depart due to business needs.
  • Lord Feri will receive word that there’s something wrong with one of his ships, which leads to him offering Anya and Sir Korbin a commission: he needs them to take him and a team of techs to the ship. This is the lead-in to my revised version of the Dying Ship. Ultimately, it will lead to them (or at least Sir Korbin) owning their own ship which will either us the Gryphon, Lakota or Midnight Rose appearance; I haven’t committed to either yet … although the Lakota might be a bit too much? It is pretty darned close to the Type-T Patrol Corvette from Traveller (400 tons, pretty heavily armed with four triple turrets (two for pulse lasers, two for missile racks), looks like 9 crew plus 8 marines) … though the more I think about it, the more I’m leaning in that direction for the “you now have your Rocinante equiv.” But when that happens, they’re going to have to shoot through some mercs to obtain that boat … food for later thought.

The Spy Game stuff requires more thought. Stuff I need to figure out (along with my tentative answers):

  • Why are the Havoc Squad guys here? Leaning toward an assassination mission that has turned bad on them (see before-mentioned trigger words subplot.)
  • Who are they meeting? This is a difficult one; have they already been flipped due to trigger words? Or are they walking into their dooms? Regardless, I’m leaning toward this being a mystery figure … who is likely a telepath. I’m also contemplating maybe having Princess Natalia ultimately be behind this in some capacity.
  • What actually happens? Another pretty difficult question. I want Rostya to be “activated” via the trigger words, but the rest … that’s where I start to break down. Bringing Baefre into this mess – e.g., the PKF tells him to look into a missing operative of their’s – could lead to some pretty dangerous scenarios (like the mystery figure above ordering the triggered (heh) personnel to kill him (Baefre) … although if they order him captured instead, said telepath could theoretically wipe his memory of this. Still, it could be quite interesting/amusing if such a thing happens.
  • Where is this happening? That’s easy. Its on the highport so … anywhere is fine.

More forthcoming as I work through this stuff in my head…