Verge Season 2 is Live

So … we played session 1 of season 2 on Friday and it went … fairly well. Overall, I was mostly satisfied, though I’d forgotten how much cat herding is required for six players at the table; we didn’t run into as much difficulty in the game prior to this (Aces & Eights) because the loudest of my players was GMing that. And that’s not a jab at him – he’ll be the first to acknowledge that he’s the loudest. Anyway…

Had the usual pregame stuff to work out – despite us playing F2F, I have a Fantasy Grounds server running so the players can manage their characters there. Some of them actually prefer to even roll dice there as well, which is odd give how fickle FG is. Anyway, we haven’t played this since June of last year so it took forever for everyone to get properly updated and the connectivity where we play in likes to drop at wildly inappropriate times.

Due to the before-mentioned loudness and cat herdiness, there was some occasional “am I really repeating this for the third or fourth time” bits, but that’s probably expected. As to the session itself, I’ve already put a recap up on the Portals, so I don’t really need to go into that beyond perhaps expounding on some of my thinking here. For some unbelievably stupid reason, I expected the PCs to all split up … which is categorically stupid in this sort of situation, so naturally, for the most part, they didn’t. I think I managed to handle it okay. The general “weirdness” of the locale seemed to work fairly well – the characters definitely wanted to get the hell out Dodge as quickly as possible. I was slightly surprised that Baefre didn’t express any interest in trying to go looting while aboard the PKF ship, but that’s probably ultimately fine. And the skill challenge was an utter failure on their part. Out of seven rolls, they succeeded on only one, which sort of worked out with my ultimate story objectives here.

Moving onto session 2 scheduled for this week, I’m rethinking a number of things. Now, in a previous version of my plan for season 2, I’d intended on starting in media res with the PCs aboard the Abzu’s Bounty and waking up, after having already visited this boat; from there, I’d go into a radically adjusted version of the Coriolis adventure, Last Voyage of the Ghazali. From there, I’d transition into the first chapter of the rewritten version of Abzu’s Bounty. The more I think about this, however, the less I like it because it amounts to back-to-back “survive the doomed ship!” scenarios and I’d like to just …

With that in mind, what I’m currently thinking now is to begin with the PCs gradually waking up, already aboard the piratical ship (that will eventually become the Hero Ship) known as the Anne Bonny and progress directly into the Abzu’s Bounty chapter. From the pirate leader – with whom Ilik will already have a former relationship of some sort – they will learn that the former ice hauler turned salvage ship, Abzu’s Bounty, suffered a massive system failure of some sort and then fricking vanished entirely; the pirate leader – Claire O’Rourke – is creeped out by this and PCs may be able to detect this fact through skills or abilities. She’ll also be willing to show them their sensor logs to confirm that they didn’t attack the Bounty … though they were intending to once the Bounty got clear of the Graveyard. The PCs were in the boarding skiff trying to escape the light frigate they were just aboard but, thanks to their complete failure of a skill challenge, instead slammed into multiple pieces of debris, then got hit by a shockwave from what looked like an exploding warhead aboard the frigate. They tumbled out of the Graveyard and, by the time that O’Rourke’s pirates caught up to them, they were all badly injured. The boarding skiff is frankly a loss – she can show that to them as well.

In the original source material, the Abzu’s Bounty had discovered (since the game was set in the Expanse universe) a bit of the protomolecule, which was the campaign MacGuffin. Since that doesn’t exist, I’m probably going to use the computer core that was their ostensible objective – although Korbin is well aware that the core is a distraction and likely irrelevant – so Captain O’Rourke will inform the PCs that she has a buyer lined up for it and will provide them a cut, presuming they’re okay with this. After all, their employers just sent them to die and, should the PCs try to reach out to Krystal Kleer back on Lloegyr, they’ll find that no one is answering at all. (Later, they may discover that the entire company just disappeared nearly overnight, though pretty much everyone suspects that the Collective is responsible for that.) This leads into the next part of the adventure that takes them to an asteroid, then ultimately something of an ambush that results in the deaths of all the pirates.

Again, looking at the original source material, the pirates were intended to assault and captured the Bounty, then take the PCs prisoner, but I know from experience how much players hate being taken captive. Further, the Bounty would be destroyed by the pirates, which doesn’t happen here. And the Bounty’s XO had betrayed the existence of the MacGuffin (protomolecule) to the pirates … which may still have happened, though Captain O’Rourke will admit she was thinking of airlocking that asshole afterward simply because he’s a punk. My thinking is thus: historically, pirates didn’t consider piracy a full-time job, but rather something desperate men were pushed into and quite frequently, a pirate would be aboard a crew for one job and then retire, never to do so again. Granted, the big names – Blackbeard, for example – obviously were exceptions to this, but I’m sticking with that notion here, so most of O’Rourke’s crew are just spacers pushed to desperation.

Ultimately, though, O’Rourke can tell the PCs that the price for their passage to her next destination is the computer core … or they can go back to the boarding skiff which all PCs can tell is inoperable and now devoid of any fuel because they used it all. She’ll just wait until they asphyxiate and then take the core anyway…