So Last Nights Game of Traveller Hit Hard

I do not normally do this as I figure that I record the sessions so if you are keen to find out what is happening that you would watch the session.  Last nights was a special session though and it changed things up in a big way.  Plus, several of the players and I sat and had a discussion for a while after we had finished that is not recorded in the session so I thought I would put out my reasoning that I gave them last night.  From memory I said it over and over again (I have a tendency of repeating myself when I have red wine, sorry guys!).

Where will the future take the crew?

Last night the players went on a competitive hunt, trying to kill the dreaded Wumpus to up their price for providing their lead with the directions to a destroyed pirate base.  There of course were a number of things that the players did not know about but I had made the decision about them before they even met the “hunters”.  I can safely reveal them now though after last nights events.  The players were so eager to make some money from the pirate base (they had to get out of there so that they could heal some of the downed players) that they simply started hitting bars to find if there was anyone interested in this material.  A bartender eventually set up a meeting.  The players had a name and the opportunity to do some research but they took it on blind faith.

The name they had been given was the planetary liaison for the pirate base.  He was a member of the pirates and largely his role was to launder the proceeds from the station and further the money in their system.  He is a very rich and very bad man for the players to be dealing with but they were all happy to meet with him and go on a hunt with him to seal the deal.  The hunt began and the players found and killed the Wumpus fairly easily (one knocked out companion is really not much in a Traveller combat) so they made their way out of the cave system and informed the contact that they had killed it, could they please collect their 3 MCr, give him the location and part ways.

It was around that time that I cut to the Larksong.  The home place for the travellers since the dawn of the game.  Captain Beniades Lark and his ship has been the backbone to this game since it began.  One of the characters (Tyson) had decided something did not feel right about it and decided to throw an “Avon” referring to the Blake’s 7 character of the same name.  This largely meant he would not go willingly into danger so he headed off to the Captain and to spend some time on the ship.  The Captain has been an NPC for a good deal of time now and I have been thinking about how this has actually been holding things back a little.  I had made no real decisions about what I was going to do here but it came to me quickly.

Remnants of the red pirate base

Lark and Tyson were relaxing in the hot-tub (installed by the pilot Tark who loves his downtime in the tub) playing a game of battle chess (no Wookies allowed).  After a few moves the Captain noticed a red warning symbol on his portable ship condition tablet.  Looking at it he asked Tyson if he had left the airlock open.  Tyson replied he had not and a moment of tension struck up.  The Captain is a complete coward and so he orders Tyson to go take a look.  Tyson agrees if the Captain can turn off the gravity (he is good moving about in those circumstances).  The Captain agrees and leaps out of the tub moving as quietly as he can toward the bridge.  Unfortunately Tyson sees Captain Beniades vanish in a steaming ball of plasma from a shot.

Yes.  I killed Captain Beniades Lark.  Sorry Seth.

I had decided at this point that I should allow a clean slate for the players to decide what they want to do.  Tyson hid and realised that there was a guy in full battledress moving to the bridge and several other combat armoured pirates (they wore the same insignia that they had seen on the pirate base).  Tyson got overlooked and made a run for it.  As he got out he turned just in time to see the pirates escape and then in an evil wave of purple and green energy the Larksong  imploded, knocking Tyson out as he was sucked toward it and fell to the starport ground some metres below.

Yes. I destroyed the Larksong.  Sorry Seth.

I love this picture 🙂

Cutting back to the caves the players finally began to realise what was happening.  They saw a shuttle take off and it seemed to scan them as it went.  It was a one person ship.  They headed back in to the caves, discovered where it launched from and found a surveillance computer.  They opened up the cameras and found the truth.  The hunter “Leroy Stencyl” who I had once described as looking much like Aurich Goldfinger was in fact a member of the red pirates.  There was a to and fro as reality began to hit and Leroy told them the fate of their ship and their Captain as he had ordered the hit and received notification that it had been done.  Leroy advised them to never cross the red pirates again.

There was a lot of discussion but in essence this is where the game ended.  They got Tyson out of hospital and realised they basically had the clothes on their back and very little else.

We had a big discussion afterward.  I told the players that I felt the game was being held up a little by the residue of Captain Beniades and the Larksong.  The group were following the old plot lines simply because they were on the ship.  There was little trading going on but there is a genuine keenness to get out amongst the stars and have adventures.  I wanted to give them a clean slate for them to decide what kind of thing that they all want from the sandbox environment.  I do love the sandbox idea and throwing them hooks to deal with but I now want to start fashioning things around what they want.

I talked to them about how it is OK if they want to continue on the plot lines that they have because there is life in them but I know that there are players that are still “in the shadow” of some of the plot lines that the original cast have put in motion.  The players can see my point but there was still an aura of shock after the ending events in the game.  So I left them the task to complete as “homework”.  We have a private community on Google+ and I asked them to start putting up there what they want their characters to be involved in.  I want them to talk as a group to work out the style of Traveller game they want.

Ushtug, the Ship’s Boat specialist!

I also indicated that I will be making some changes to the system in the near future.  I want to build up some house rules that make the system more usable and less deadly for the players.  The Traveller Universe is an unforgiving place but why should it almost be the case that in every combat someone dies!  So I am working on that at the same time that I am re-branding the universe for the players.  No more am I accepting the 80’s future as envisaged by the base game.  Instead I am making things that will be current future imaginings.  I did do a lot of pointing fingers at the system in regards to this but seriously, it is my fault.  The system is my tool and I will get it to do what I will.  It was the way that I was presenting things and this is changing with every game.

It was a great game last night and I hope we can get some even better Traveller games out of it into the future, no matter where that takes us!  Until next time, keep rolling.

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