Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Traveller: Outer Sectors Report 1 - An Apology

Alex's Trav game started this last Sunday, and it went fairly well.  This was Alex's first time GMing for a group of experienced players, and while there were some rough patches, overall I think fun was had by most.

We did run into some trouble with in-party balance / people feeling useful.  Drew and I both ended up with relatively high-powered characters; he has an ex-marine combat monster with Gunnery for starship combat and Persuade for social situations, and I've got a silver-tongued smuggler (Deception, Stealth, Broker, and Streetwise for social situations, Gunnery for space combat, and...  not much for ground combat, really).  Matt's a pilot-turned-spy with a really high dexterity, so he's a great pilot and a good shot, but lacking on the social front (doesn't speak Human, for one thing).  Tim had a reporter-cop-marine with low-to-average ability scores; he's hewed out a niche as the party medic, and also has Steward and Carouse, so he's good for getting into trouble and finding passengers dirtside, and picked up Sensors and Comms from the skill package so he's a support character in space combat.  Jared, unfortunately, kind of got shafted.  He rolled an archaeologist / engineer; archaeo didn't really come up last session (but should next session), and engineer wasn't terribly useful either, as the only damage we took during space combat was a hull hit, so it couldn't be jury rigged or otherwise fixed in combat.  He's a decent shot and has a laser carbine, so he's dangerous on the ground, though.  Another contributing factor was that we had an NPC patron along for the ride who was also an archaeologist.  After some debate with Alex, we're kinda thinking she might get retconned to just being a minor official, so she's not stepping on Jared's toes too much.  But...

Really the crux of the issue is that Drew and I spent too much time as the focus of events.  I was rolling broker for cargo constantly, as well as getting into trouble with Resistance Organizations and bluffing the crazy guys who took Ms. MacGuffin the NPC hostage.  During starship combat, Drew and I were on the guns, with Tim supporting with Sensor Lock and ECM, Matt dodging and/or lining up shots, and Jared twiddling his thumbs waiting for systems damage.  When ground combat did finally roll around, Drew murderized most of the enemies on round 1 with a well-placed grenade (they forgot about the Dive For Cover reaction - I expect that rule might see play next session), and then the last hostile accidentally blew himself up with his own grenade, denying Matt and Jared the opportunity to get their shots off at him.

So, next session, I for one intend to try to be a little less focal, and I apologize for being a screen-hog last game.  If ground combat happens, I'll be burning my actions to give Leadership initiative bonuses to the rest of the party, plus Stealth to avoid becoming a target, attacks when that fails, and possibly Deception when appropriate.  I'm also backing off the constant Brokering; it was actually kind of a chore, and while it was insanely lucrative (we're up to ~5MCr of profit presently), it just wasn't a whole lot of fun.  I'm thinking now that we have a good pad for the starship mortgage payments, we'll just move bulk, passengers, and the occasional high-value or illegal cargo like radioactives.  In-character, this is the result of my smuggler getting sick of haggling with uptight suit-and-tie types and missing his old, adventurous style of operations - it would seem that part of the draw for him of a life of crime is the excitement.  Ideally, I'm looking for one or two broker rolls per planet, rather than the 6-12 per planet from last session.  Profit margins will suffer, but it's OK, because I have other crazy plans.

For example, the next planet on our itinerary is a mining world with really nasty wildlife.  In particular, there's a variety of man-sized snake which is insanely fast, venomous, and generally deadly.  This world is also low-tech and full of broken terrain, so we're likely to end up travelling by jeep or mule rather than air car (and landing the spaceship at the objective isn't much of an option either, unless we want to level a landing pad first).  If, by some terrifying chance, we happen to meet one of these things...  We should zap it with a stunner (or stun grenade, possibly - we should pick up some of those), stick it in a low berth, and sell it to the highest bidder.  Yes, it's for monetary gain, which we don't really need.  But it'd also be an awesome story and full of plot potential ("Oh noes, we're being boarded by pirate in great force!  We can't repel firepower of that magnitude!  ...  Maybe we should thaw the snake.  Any volunteers for defrost duty?" or "Oh gods it got loose...  Do we tell the passengers?").

Similarly, I think we should also set up a still in the engine compartment.  On the one hand, it would let us turn bulk grain into bulk space moonshine (starshine?), potentially at a profit.  On the other hand, it would also be an excellent RP element, allowing Tim to ply our passengers with copious beverages of dubious origin, permitting us to flood the cargo bay with concentrated alcohol vapors to disable pirates (or just buy them off with booze...), and providing a source of inflammatory weapons in a pinch.  Oh, also a good thing for the customs inspectors to find; give them little victories to throw them off the important crimes.  Good justification for training Carouse during long spaceflights, too.

So, that's kind of what to expect from me - the occasional crazy scheme that may or may not be as risky as it is lucrative, Leadership bonuses in combat, and low-level background speculative trading.  Likewise, we have significant cash reserves that we can dip into to provide Useful Pieces of Tech.  Got your eye on a particular cybernetic enhancement?  We may be able to fund it.  Think we need an armored vehicle to deal with the Giant Death Adders?  We can swing that, if we can find a seller.  I want to support the party, and if generating credits is a good way to do that, so be it, but making money is no longer the main goal.  Doing crazy / adventurous things is (and survival.  Survival's good).

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