GM Commentary: The Verge, 1×02

Recap here.

I covered most of my thoughts in the GM Notes on the recap, but I’ll redo them here.

  • Man, there was a lot of joking and cross-talk going on tonight. We did not get as far as expected.
  • The duel was amusing. As a honor duel, they faced off with Shot Pistols (so 1 shot, 3D damage) and gained the full +6 Aim bonus to the shot (which meant Baefre could not miss), then rolled initiative to determine who went first. I decided that Ilik’s psionic actions would cause Bane on Baefre’s opponent, which allowed the Taareh to shoot first; he hit but rolled miserable damage, even with all the bonuses – if he’d have been able to eke out 1 more point of damage, his opponent would have been knocked unconscious. On my turn, I shot and did exactly enough damage to knock Baefre unconscious (END + STR damage.) Duel over.
  • We encountered some rules questions that I have to look up – how much does medical treatment actually cost post-creation? Or does it cost the same (5000 per point healed)? Plus, how much do the PCs get paid by LFC?
  • I didn’t control the “what are you doing while Baefre is recovering” montage very well and tried to push Ephraim’s character to finish up more than I should have. He’s the admin guy; he should have his moment to shine.
  • The crash went fine but I also didn’t quite manage the immediate aftermath very well. I’m going to have to review how to do that better.

GM Commentary: The Verge, 1×01

Recap here.

I covered most of my thoughts in the GM Notes on the recap, but I’ll redo them here.

  • We spent an hour or so sorting out equipment for the characters. This was to be expected.
  • WxMAN was out on vacation, so the need for his character to be delayed by the TSA equivalent. He’ll be showing up next week.
  • I declared the people-mover was probably an Exeter-class but in retrospect, it should have been a Xuan Wu. I’ll be changing that for the future.
  • The entire investigation was intended to go by more quickly, but we’re still learning the system – this was the first actual bit of gameplay we’ve had – so there’s a learning curve. Plus, everyone was involved with the investigation and it made sense to let the players take me where they wanted.
  • The Shrike is straight up ripped off from Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. No idea what I’m going to do with it; I just threw it in as flavor with an eye toward it being spacer lore. I even jokingly referenced the “Cult of the Shrike.”
  • I used the Traveller Emulator to spin up Mr. Roberts and man, the dice were not kind to him. He had no characteristics above 9 and most were below 6; INT and SOC were both 4, so I declared that none of the PCs really got along with him. One of the random elements that showed up on the emulator was that he had been in a monastery so I said “a type of monastery” and mentioned that he’d frequently chatted with Rostya (who spent a career as a Truther (from Traveller Companion). This was intended as a one-off joke, but one of the players asked if Roberts had perhaps been a member of the Cult of the Shrike … so I went with it.
  • I enjoyed explaining how screwed up the culture of the Twelve Families was and even decided on the fly that each of the major colonies have “dueling arenas” so disputes can be settled properly.
  • Everyone was in the process of leaving the “street-captain” – a phrase coined by CommJunkee that I promptly stole and “canonized” for the game – when MagMan had his character react to my street captain muttering crossly about the Taareh. This led to the cliffhanger which will be resolved at the beginning of next session, one way or the other.

Pregame Setup: Faction Cards

There are going to be five players in my upcoming Traveller: The Verge game and, conveniently, there are also five different “factions” (for lack of a better term.) With that in mind, I’m going to have each player select one of these Factions as their originating one during the character creation phase. This will be at the very beginning of the process and characters are not required to remain in that faction beyond character creation.

What I’m currently planning on doing is printing the following and putting them on 3×5 cards, but not allowing any of the players to look at the adjustment side until after they’ve selected their options.

Continue reading “Pregame Setup: Faction Cards”

Game Prep: The Verge, Pt 3

As stated in a previous post, I’m looking at running Mongoose 2nd Edition Traveller for the Friday face-to-face group at some point in the foreseeable future – we’re playing Night’s Black Agents right now, but I’m “on deck” (to use some baseball lingo) when the current GM finishes his run. We’re planning on doing a Session 0 where we all gather together and spin up the characters …

As a result, there’s very, very little I can do in terms of planning because I don’t have characters to plan around. I’m still sort of planning on using Tripwire as a basis, but I sort of have Pirates of Drinax in the back of my mind as well … since we’re not using the actual Traveller universe, but rather a customized universe (more info on the Obsidian Portals site for the game: The Verge), I can’t use it exactly as written, but now … I’m sort of leaning toward Tripwire being a big-ass prequel that leads into a massively revised PoD? I guess we’ll see…

Regarding the characters, I’ve sort of spun up a Character Creation Worksheet that I’ll make a copy of for each player so I can publish this info on the Portals after session 0. Planning on using a lot of 2300 AD character stuff since that’s actually a lot closer to the game I’m looking at …

The bad part here is that I’m really enjoying the NBA game but man, I’m ready to kick this game off…

So … Now What?

Now that my GURPS: Action run is complete, I’m into the “okay, what’s next” phase. I’m next up in the GM rotation with the Friday group and will be using Mongoose 2nd Edition Traveller though not the Traveller setting itself, but I literally have no idea when that’s going to kick off. Probably after the first of the year at the very least, what with the “stupid season” about to kick in so all of our games are likely to get postponed due to holiday schedules.

For the Saturday group, we’re going to be doing Shadowrun for a couple of sessions – again, see the above-mentioned stupid season – before starting Giger’s Sea Dogs game … eventually. I’m looking forward to that game because I really dig my character.

After that, we’re presumably doing a non-GURPS game for the first time ever with Olympus with a D&D 5E game. I’m actually hoping this does happen instead of getting pushed back and pushed back and pushed back and finally cancelled altogether because I’ve liked what I’ve seen of 5E thus far.

For me, I have two games that I’m leaning toward. In our Banestorm game, my character, Finn Sardock, was “lost” in a localized banestorm at the conclusion of the previous GM’s run, which leaves it wide open for me to run a short (hopefully) story arc that I have been jokingly calling “Season 3: The Search for Sardock.” I’ve already got this mostly plotted out – excluding the inevitable hard left turns and crazy random changes to be introduced by PCs – so that’s definitely something I’m leaning toward doing down the road.

I’m also looking at a resumption of our GURPS: Traveller campaign but a.) advancing the timeline by 5-10 years and b.) using completely new characters. This is still in the preliminary planning stages at the moment as I’m sort of, kind of thinking “you know, Pirates of Drinax is right there, calling to you …” Granted, I’m already using some elements of PoD in my Friday campaign setting, but that’s easily shifted and it could be very interesting…

But at the moment, I’m clear and free for a while. Which is appropriate since NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and I really need to do some writing for a change…

GM Commentary: ConsOps 2.17

And now, my watch is ended.

So, my run of ConsOps is complete. Probably to no one’s surprise, I was only partially satisfied with this final session – it took about an hour and a half longer than it should have because I didn’t do a better job of setting some stuff up and then didn’t do a good enough job of pre-reading the actual adventure part that I was ripping off to realize that a team of four would not dare to assault a ship this size considering the numbers arrayed against them. Lynch’s player made a brief reference/thought about calling in TYR, the Russian FSB Spetsnaz guy they’d encountered, but the conversation moved on and we forgot about it.

We wasted waaaaay too much time trying to figure out gear and then, once the PCs were on the boat, the players realized that they actually didn’t have much of a plan. This was partially my fault – I didn’t realize until late in the process that there were references to un-involved crewmembers on the ship and my off-the-cuff comment that it was an open secret that the ship itself was actually a SVR asset caused the PCs to (logically) presume that all of the crew were well-trained covert bad asses – and partially the PCs in that they did not actually come up with a plan before hitting the ship itself. Most of the players basically shrugged and wanted to just “figure it out as they went” but Lynch’s player sort of vapor-locked at this because he was getting frustrated (I think) at everyone else just wanting to make it up as he went.

Regardless, the team split up to take out the sentries they knew of as well as the guy on the bridge. This forced me to make an immediate shuffle of the bad guys as the adventure I was using had the bad guy “leader” there on the bridge and I didn’t want to have BRAGI die completely like a chump here. So the three bad guys went down pretty easily – stealth attacks are brutal, after all. Interestingly enough, all three went down via a different method – one was garroted, one was choked out, and one had his throat slashed open. At this point, the explosive guy broke away from the rest of the group and headed to the engineering deck so as to locate and (ideally) disarm any explosives.

As it turns out, the three other PCs had determined to rally on the very deck that their actual target was on; this was not intentional on my part, but it worked out fairly well, I suppose since it promptly devolved into a firefight. Unfortunately, Mahoney, the explosives guy, is cut off from everyone else and I didn’t have much for him to do; what I should have done is immediately engage him in a simultaneous firefight in the engineering section while the other PCs are engaged up top. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur to me at the time so the player basically sat on his thumb for too much of the session after making his EOD disarm check.

The PCs were able to take out most of the remaining hostiles easily enough, and then, as is his wont, BRAGI attempted to flee, though he was pursued and shot in the face by Baum (which meant they could not identify who was wearing the mask). I then ended the session with the PCs being aware that a missile was incoming before jumping to a sort of narrative cutscene that revealed the guy who put them on this trail in the first place was also wearing a mask and was a bad guy.

Overall, I was nominally satisfied with this run. It had some high points, some low points and some mediocre points. I don’t think the players were as engaged as I would have liked, which resulted in me not being as excited as I would have liked. I also shifted my narrative a bit about midway through, which didn’t really help that much (though I don’t think it was immediately noticeable.) In retrospect, I really think this would have worked better in a face-to-face group where I could see the faces of the other players and adjust what I was doing along the way.

Live and learn, I suppose…