I have spoken a few times on here about creating a Traveller/Pink Floyd mash up and I can now say that this has gone forward and two games of it have been conducted. Traveller is in it’s 40th Anniversary year and Pink Floyd’s Momentary Lapse of Reason album is in it’s 30th anniversary year. We have now had two games of this mash up. but they are both the same game – kind of…
Give the customer what they want…
A couple of weeks ago I had set the Friday in my store aside to start this campaign that I have had in my head for so many years. But I got nervous and changed it all on the day. The players wanted to make their own character (and experience Traveller’s death mechanic). With five players this took a good deal of time. I wanted the Signs of Life branch of this game to be a Scout adventure but none of them ended up with Scouts. Character creation took an hour too long and the premise I had prepared just did not suit the characters. So I adjusted on the fly. At the end of the night this lapse of reason had turned my idea into something completely unrecognizable.
Take a break and reboot
The following Friday I had only one player show up. I had planned not to continue with the plot I had set in motion but I was not prepared to start anew. We sat down and made a character that he wants to play in a Traveller campaign on the side. I discussed the issues I had and he agreed that I should start it again – my way. This week I made four Scout characters and created a full mission brief. The characters shaped my idea already in place and made an interesting twist on the whole idea. The characters made all had been college graduates and on the whole very accomplished in the Scout service. One was only one rank off the highest accolade in the service. Most of them were above 40 years of age though.
Two players arrived and chose their characters. One was a must have (it had the Scout Ship “seeker” and the other was chosen for his medical focus. They were played Signs of Life from A Momentary Lapse of Reason and then presented with the briefing for the mission.
The Astrophysicist, Doctor Voltimand Court, had recently stirred up fear and unrest in the Bathune subsector. He claimed he had located a planet in the system that was showing unusual electrical activity. The kind of activity that suggested intelligent life. But the Scout service had surveyed the planet over a century previously The survey concluded that the planet had the following UPP;
Which in human states the following;
- No starport or facilities for landing
- Planet is 8000 Km in diameter
- The planet sustains a very thin atmosphere – breathable
- It is 70% water formed in glacial ice that covers the entire surface
- No life, government, law or technology exists on the planet
The Scout service pointed to this evidence to refute the claims of the Doctor but the outcry was great. It was time for the Scouts to call in trusted faces to the public and send some of their greatest retirees to planet PSR 8862 +99 -m and confirm that there is no life to be found. The selection of these characters made me laugh and reminded me of the movie Space Cowboys a little!
The players in this game are pretty much brand new to Traveller. Despite this fact their Scouts made a stop at the most important place for the Scouts – the bottle shop. A week in Jump Space coming up and they both had carousing right! I told them the history of Scouts and Scout brew and marveled at the fact that this was the first thing they did! Regardless, they made the jump despite neither of the player characters having Navigation. The computer organised all that for them and no miss jump was to be seen.
Coming out of Jump they also realised that the characters they had chosen had no ability to survey the planet. They tried to utilize the sensors on the ship but failed utterly. Instead they decided to take the Ship’s Boat to the surface and make their way around the glaciers in the tracked ATV that was stocked in the cargo bay. The pilot, Senior Scout Leader H Jeremy Thomas, touched down in a violent storm – a professional pilot for the ages. He was a veteran of many missions, two thirds of his career spent on one mission or another. The other character, Senior Supervisor Doctor Reggie Clarke, was much more a career individual. He had spent only a quarter of his time with the Technical department on missions.
Heading out across the glaciers in the ATV it was not long before the ATV tipped and became wedged in a glacial crevice. Determined to see the mission through the pair took to the ice on foot to see what they could find. The good Doctor had set up an array with his knowledge of Engineering that reacted to electromagnetic fields. Following the sensor they came to a glacial crevasse that the field they found seemed to be coming from.
Descending into the crevasse the Senior Scout Leader struggled to maintain his composure. He was too old for this style of work but he persisted. Utilizing his torch and other equipment he saw contained in the wall of the glacier what appeared to be a heavily modified Far Trader. As he noted this he then started to see electrical current traversing from pillars of ice. Firing much like electricity arcing from a Jacob’s Ladder. On arrival back at the surface the pair agreed that they needed to free the ATV and bring the Ship’s Boat to this point to investigate further what was occurring.
Making it back to the Ship’s Boat was an arduous journey and the pair rested for the evening (after a few drinks of course). On awakening a large squall had picked up and the Senior Scout Leader took the Ship’s Boat up and to the ATV. Unfortunately on coming in to land the wind shifted the Ship’s Boat and drove it sideways into the ATV, crushing it and wedging the Ship’s Boat in the crevasse. Disturbed but not beaten he attempted to pull the Ship’s Boat out with his piloting abilities.
A loud scream of metal called out and immediate decompression answered his tender ministrations. The Ship’s Boat was badly damaged and certainly not in any condition to fly without extensive repairs that they were unequipped for. The Far Trader entombed in the glacier now seemed their only salvation. Piling up some grav sleds the pair made their way across the glacier on foot back to the Far Trader.
Lowering themselves into the glacier again they now noted that much of the Far Trader appeared to be in a liquid pocket of frigid ice. The cargo hold still seemed to be encased in ice and so the good Doctor determined that they should take shifts making their way to the cargo bay. He took the initial shift and avoided disaster many times with some superior engineering calls. But with an endurance of one there was only so much he could do before the Senior Scout Leader took to cutting into the ice. The Doctor had about enough time to make a drink from the bottles that he had brought with him when he heard a crack. A significant shift in the ice. He turned to give a warning only to see a large wall of ice shatter and the large lake full of frigid water kill the Senior Scout Leader and shoot toward him. The good Doctor just got the drink to his lips as the tsunami of frigid ice engulfed him forever.
This is a perfect ending for this. You may think that I have a story mapped out for this, but it is not true. I have a series of situations that I can envisage but they are directly affected by outcomes of games. I never imagined that this game would end with the experienced scouts at the bottom of a lake of water. There was a lot of discovery still to be had but this makes a great stepping stone for the next Momentary Lapse of Reason session, Learning to Fly. In fact the situation I thought I would be starting with is completely different now! What happened to the most trusted Scouts in the system? Does this mean there is a hostile alien life species? What effects does this have in the Bathune system?
Learn through play
This is precisely what I talk about. I had so much fun learning about this story. The genesis of the story came from me (and Momentary Lapse of Reason I suppose) and blossomed into a story of companionship and tragedy. The players were prepared for this as they knew it was a one shot and they too marveled at the horrible, horrible dice rolls that caused the deaths of these two incredibly talented characters. You do not need to force a story if you have a premise that is surrounded by the parameters that the players are likely to interact with. Flow with the players decisions and build the consequences from them – brilliant games will occur! Keep rolling.