My first truly successful one-shot game

The Bathune System, home to the Burning Planets

Last night I ran my first game of Classic Traveller (CT) for the year.  To reduce the amount of running games that I do while I study I came up with a different idea for my CT games this year.  I have decided to run only 6 games (last year I ran them pretty much fortnightly) and make each of them a connected one-shot adventure in a sector of my creation.  I have tried to do one shot adventures in the past but I have not done one well and I often thought to myself if it was actually possible to get one full adventure in a nice neat three hour package.

Well, last night I did exactly that.  I have spent a good deal of extraneous time building up a reality with Tavern Keeper (a great Campaign manager) and also reading and rereading sections of the rules.  I have spent a good deal of time planning the first couple of concept ideas for the first two adventures and last nights game was designed to be a space game with a twist.  It was going to occur in a mining vessel that was land bound on a desert planet.  I drew on Dune and Alien for some of the inspiration but (and I was very pleased with this) the main inspiration was a relatively famous old Doctor Who sequence known as the Robots of Death.

Taking on those influences I wanted to create something cinematic, heavy roleplay based that told a full story.  I planned on at most having a three hour period to be able to run the game and started to build what I hoped was a realistic time frame for my game.  Below is the initial planning for the adventure;

Time Event
0:00 – 0:15
Dust storm chase, introduction of main NPC’s Marlyn Barek and Verduct
0:15 – 0:40
First murder discovered and investigation
0:40 – 1:30
Dust storm chase and second murder investigation
1:30 – 2:00
Sabotage? Pegasus immobilised in what seems like a saboteur attack
2:00 – 2:10
The collapse of the “facility” roof
2:10 – 2:30
The facility exploration finds a long abandoned manufacturing station but they can not work out what it manufactured. Find some sort of data cube that the Admiral leads them almost directly to.
Admiral attempts to flee with data cube when a Ship’s Boat lands while Verduct attempts to kill her

I started working a few details out around this and plotted some more intricate detail for the game.  But then I realised that the more I tried to fit into this game the harder it was going to be to fit into the 3 hours that I had planned for.  not to mention I knew that there had to be a time where the players selected their pre-generated characters.  Rather than try to cram too much in I wanted to get the key points above across and develop the main characters as well as some supporting roles (the murder victims!) to make the Pegasus (the name of the mining vehicle) feel like a realistic and intriguing place.

I realised also that as this was going to be a connected series of adventures that the detail can build up from the meta story.  I did not need to force it down the neck of the players.  So, with some good character details for the main protagonists (the commander of the vessel Admiral Berek Perel-Marlyn the Darrian female who is mysterious and reckless, as well as Verduct the wry driver of the Pegasus with odd strength who is actually an android).  It was the first time I had built and used a robot and I was very pleased with the results.

Game night came and things did not bode well as a few of us waited for other players.  it took about 15 minutes to realise that they were waiting for us in another hangout!  Once we sorted that out I realised I had a whopping 7 players in the game which was going to make timing and control for the game crucial.
The next adventure is already forming in my head…
The above timings were ever present on my screen and I ran the game with an eye to cutting back in certain time where I could.  30 minutes in I thought I had blown it and that I would yet again be running another two part one-shot and felt a little deflated.  later in the game though I managed to pull some time back.  We had started the game at around 8:30 P.M. once characters had been chosen and all the players wrangled into the correct hangout.  As I said goodbye I noted it was 11:35 PM.

I was very pleased with myself.  The first reason was that this game had been fun for me.  A lot of fun.  CT always tends to go that way for me, I get tied up in knots about running it but I always have fun.  Secondly, the plot had been received well and it was a complex little story that offered some intrigue and tension.  It used the seven players unique roles and played into cut scenes with very little of the game being the group standing altogether.  Finally, I had done it in about the expected time!  This mythic thing of the one-off game had been achieved and I was ecstatic about it.  It even played out differently to what I thought would happen in the end.

I was so happy with this game in fact that I planned to go back and watch the YouTube video to see how I had done it and then I realised I had utterly failed in one thing.  I had forgotten to hit the “Start Broadcast” button!  No video evidence exists of my miraculous feat!  Ah well, you live and learn I suppose and it is a mistake that I will not be making for the next instalments in my “Burning Planets” campaign which my brain is actively thinking about even this soon after finishing the first!  Until then, keep rolling!

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