Fate Accelerated – Ships

I have decided to trim down the Approaches of vehicles somewhat since I don’t think that all of the standard player Approaches are required; I have decided to go with the following Skills/Approaches: 
  • Speed : Representing sailing speed and maneuverability.
    • Used to attack if ramming.
    • Used to defend if attempting to avoid damage via maneuverability.
  • Combat: Representing the ships ability to both deal out punishment and to receive it.
    • Used to attack with cannons or other weapons.
    • Used to defend if attempting to deal with damage via the ships innate toughness.
Below are the list of statistics that I have come up with for numerous different ship types:

I have amalgamated stress with the number of crew a ship possesses; for each point of stress the ship has 10 crew, during a combat each of these can be used to soak one level of stress (in addition to the option of using the ship’s consequences). Any ship reduced to half crew or less has it’s Approach/Skill scores halved (rounding down) until it can replenish crew (the ship stress boxes can only be ‘healed’ by taking on more crew).
If a player character is onboard then they may choose to take stress intended for the ship on their own character instead should they so wish.
Each of the ships received two fate points that can be used with it’s Aspects, and player characters can also use their own fate points to aid the ship, but only if they have an appropriate Aspect.
The Stunt Cannons means that when a ship fires it may target all enemies is the same zone using a single roll, the enemies then make seperate defence rolls to avoid harm as normal; any differences in scale are added/deducted to any stress caused after defence rolls have been made.

Fate Accelerated – Vehicles – First draft

The below vehicle scale is based on the scale rules from Legends of Anglerre.
I was forced to scrap the idea of having no stress boxes, only consequences because I wanted to make the larger scale vehicles more difficult to kill but didn’t want the players/GM to have to track a vast number of additional consequences.
Each vehicle has it’s approaches rated at +0 by default and receives a number of points (based on their scale) to spend on increasing their ratings on a one to one basis.
Vehicles can only directly attack others that are a maximum of 2 scale points lower or higher than their own (individual human sized characters count as scale 1), each Stunt devoted to this matter can increase this limit by a single point.
Otherwise Stunts generally work the same as normal in Fate Accelerated (either adding a +2 in certain circumstances or allowing the vehicle to accomplish something ‘cool’ 1/session as per the Fate Accelerated rulebook); each Stunt costs a point of the vehicles Refresh (no vehicle may have a Refresh of less than 1).

Fate Accelerated – Vehicles

Anyone who has read this blog will know that i’ve devoted a considerable number of posts to trialing various methods of represented spacecraft for my Fate Core Rogue Trader game and that, after a lot of consideration, I settled on a fairly narrative style of adjudicating them.
Recently in my Serpents Fall G+ hangout Fate Accelerated fantasy game the players have captured a pinnace (a small ship) from an enemy pirate; inevitably at some point the players will want to make use of this ship (and quite rightly too) so i’ve started early musings about how to represent the ship (and potentially other vehicles) using the Fate Accelerated system.
These are my early musings:
  • Vehicles should have the same basic approaches as players (Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick & Sneaky)
  • Vehicles should also have Aspects and Stunts in the same way as players.
  • Vehicles should not have stress boxes, only consequence boxes (because it’s more interesting when a ship or vehicle is hit to have it cause a noticable effect).
  • Players should be able to take vehicle stress on their characters if they choose in order to spare the vehicle damage (and to represent being injured by falling masonry, timbers, etc)
  • Players should be able to substitute their characters Approach score for certain of the ships default scores.
  • Vehicles should have some indicator of scale and how this affects their interactions with vehicles/individuals or smaller/large scale.
I hope in future posts to expand on this and come up with some quick and easy rules for vehicles in Fate Accelerated 🙂

Serpents Fall – Cast of characters

We’re now on the run up to our third G+ hangout session for our Serpents Fall Fate Accelerated game so thought i’d post up a little about the characters that are taking part in the game:
* * *
Captain Benito, deposed Pirate King

Captain Benito was once the chosen King of the Sword Isles, ruling over the Scarlet Brotherhood, however the treachery of his black-hearted colleague Horningold Blythe laid the flashy pirate low; a great and powerful curse was laid upon Benito, it was intended to kill him but the strength of his Lemurian heritage allowed the Captain to avoid this fate, but the sea would forever afterwards shun him, visiting disaster and misfortune on any ship should Benito try to use it to voyage across the waves. Spat out by the seas of the mainline, Benito quickly discovered his curse and immediately set about trying to find a way to have it removed, even seeking out help from the renowned spirit shaman of southern Stygia, it was here he encountered the wandering outcast Ozuchi Komodo and the death priest Horesh Komani, each also seeking their own destinies.
Benito has recently encountered an old enemy of his in the shape of Captain Hannibal Hawkins, a lieutenant of Blythe’s and one of the first people to call for his disposal; Hawkin’s black corsairs seem to be in league with the savage Picts, kidnapping people for some nefarious purpose. With the aid of his friends Benito has captured Hawkins, taken his ship and freed the prisoners, although he sustained a severe skull injury in the process.
* * *
Gunnar Kron, norsican warrior seeking to atone for his past

As part of the Timber Wolf raiding fleet that ravaged Stygia, Kron spent many years as a terror to the more civilised people of Serpents Fall, proving himself worth the murderous and savage reputation that grew up around him; however when he was commanded to butcher those who could not fight back Kron refused and found himself forever outcast by the fleet. Ozuchi Komodo, the person who Kron had refused to kill, saw that the warrior had some part to play in the destinies unfolding and suggested that the forceful warrior join them. Kron now fights within his own code of honour, but the red spectre of his past constantly plagues him.
* * *
Horesh Komani, khemrian death priest

Born amongst the death-worshipping tribes of Khemri, Horesh showed an early aptitude for the death magics and spiritual workings of the country’s priesthood, attracting the services of a death-raven spirit companion during his younger years; his rise to prominence however was watched with jealous eyes from certain quarters and, during his initiation exploring an ancient tomb, Horesh found himself forced into a position where he had to choose between the life of a fellow or advancing his own knowledge of death. Horesh found this decision easy to make and channeling death energy through his body slew his fellow priest.
As Horesh continues to expand his knowledge of the spirit world he finds himself increasingly drawn into situations where he must rely on the power of the spirits, but ever so slowly he finds himself owing a tangled web of favours that must someday be paid.
* * *
Ozuchi Komodo, last survivor of the komodo tribe

From the moment he was born Ozuchi knew that he had a destiny, the spirit world revealed it’s secrets to him, that one day he was destined to help re-unite the fractured kingdoms of Stygia; however it appeared that his dreams would come to naught when the Timber Wolf raiding fleet were sighted on the southern coast and norsican raiders began to pillage and burn their way across the country. As his tribe fell, Ozuchi prepared to sell his own life dearly when again fate played it’s hand and one of the warriors (a norsican by the name of Gunnar Kron), disgusted by the brutality of the slaughter, turned against his fellows and helped Ozuchi to escape.
Some time later whilst exploring a ruined temple in the jungles of Khemri, Ozuchi witnessed two death-priests battling and, as one fell, he recognised the survivor Horesh Komani as his khemrian counterpart, he knew that together the two of them could re-unite their splintered homeland.
* * *




Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 18: RULES BREAKDOWN

I’ve been asked a couple of times to give more details about the actually rules, etc used during the sessions, but since I didn’t want to break up the narrative I thought that i’d separate this stuff out into it’s own post, let me know what you think.
The original post can be found here.

With the second wave of enemy ships approaching Lord Admiral Black looked around at the ragged remnant of his fleet and took stock of the force that he has to take on the encroaching heretics, his flagship, the Venerus, was largely untouched (aside from some minor cosmetic damage), the Lunatic Pandorawas functional but had sustained heavy damaged and the Rod Hant was currently fighting off boarders from the first wave of the enemy, and they had only a couple of days before the mainstay of Lorgar Khan’s fleet arrived.

Each of the ships used in this combat had a series of stress boxes worth 1 stress and no consequences; medium ships has three such boxes, with larger ships having four and extremely large ships having five. The ships broke down as follows:
Venerus (players flagship) [] [] [] []
Lunatic Pandora (players) [] [] []
Clan ships (including the Rod Hant + the enemy clan ships) [] [] []
Dark Omen (traitor space marine battle barge) [] [] [] [] []
The Venerus has been established as having an elite crew previously in the game so received a +2 bonus to attack/defence rolls, the Rod Hant was severely damaged in the previous combat and so received a -2 to attack/defence rolls.
The Dark Omen is also crewed by elites and so received a +2 bonus to attack and defence rolls.

Over the course of the first day Admiral Black helped Captain Pak repel the boarders on the Rod Hant and eventually they succeeding in killing the last one, although a lengthy check for sabotage and explosives did means that they did not have time to fully repair the extensive damage that the Rod Hant had sustained in the previous combat. Realising that, in their present shape, they could not hope to challenge the mighty Battle Barge of the traitor AstartedLorgar Khan they concocted a desperate plan whereby they would use the ancient teleportarium aboard the Venerus to teleport a fire-linked collection of krak missiles and other explosives into the engine room of the enemy vessel.

The players were offered the choice of thoroughly ensuring that the Rod Hant was free of sabotage, but in return not having time to repair it (and taking a -2 penalty in the fight) or repairing it but potentially having some saboteurs or explosives on board (that may have been used for compels later); knowing that the fight was going to be a close one they chose the former option.

As they readied themselves for combat on the second day, Admiral Black sat on the bridge watching the approaching fleet, his wife at his side and placed his head in his hands; suddenly he was no longer on the bridge of the Venerus but was standing in the royal chambers on his homeworld of Telec Prime, groups of panicked medical technicians were running down a corridor towards a room that he recognised as belong to his father Macharius Black, almost without thinking the Admiral followed them. In the room Macharius, looking sickly, his eyes yellowed and his face (which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Admiral) pale, he was railing against the med-techs who appeared to be informing him that his treatments were no longer proving effective; shouting that there was none to take his place leading the family if he died, Macharius ordered them to send for his sons, there must be other technology out there that could preserve his life. 

One of the established character Aspects of Lord Admiral Fortunus Black is that he suffers from blackouts; the player was offered a fate point to reveal some of the plot using this Aspect and accepted leading to the above scene unfolding.

A voice called out to Admiral Black and he jerked awake in the command chair, his wife Lady Dominique Decusis-Black was shaking his arm and looking at him in a concerned manner, but he waved away her concerns saying that he was fine. Captain Pak had finished adapting one of the damaged murder servitors from the Lunatic Pandora and had wired it into the trigger mechanism of the bomb that they had constructed, as the first enemy ships entered range and began to open fire with macro-batteries Pak began to have the teleportarium chamber prepped for dispatch; Navigator York Benetec had been psychically scanning the area and relayed the coordinates for the likely location of the engine room about the enemy battle barge. 

The Venerus was discovered and salvaged in-game with an archeotech teleportarium aboard it, this has been modelled in Fate using a Stunt that once per game session allows them to teleport a small party (or the equivalent mass) from anywhere within the same system to the Venerus or from the Venerus to anywhere in the system (that they have the coordinates to). In desperation the players decided to use it to transport a large amount of explosives aboard the approaching battle barge, their tech (Captain Pak) was required to make some risky rolls to connect them all up without explosive results, but he easily passed them.

As his mind probed the area of space around them, Benetec felt another presence and, sensing that it was not hostile, allowed it to make contact with him; Benetec found himself on a prosperous world of fluted silver towers and happy people, the hazy psychic projection of the chaos sorceror Kantor Pilusfloating next to him. Pilus showed Benetec how his homeworld had been devastated by the Astartes after their leader had attempted to use forbidden sorcery to warn the Emperor of treachery from within, “although we were right, this was our reward” mocked the sorceror with a touch of sadness in his voice. Pilus attempted to persuade Benetec that if they just handing the ancient recording device to Lorgar that much bloodshed could be avoided, Benetec refused and broke off the psychic connection. 

York Benetec’s player was offered a fate point to reveal some of the plot (in a manner similar to the blackout earlier) and accepted; this scene was RP entirely sans-dice and was more about the choices that the player would make.

The space around Strive filled with escape pods and short range craft as the survivors of ruined ships on both sides sort to make their way planet side; the remaining enemy clan ship attempted to flee, laying mines to cover it’s tracks but it was destroyed by the Venerus, York Benetec was able to use his psychic powers to direct the ships mine defence lasers to target and take out the remaining mines. Meanwhile the Rod Hant had picked up a signal coming from an escaped enemy shuttle that was recognisably Adpetus Mechanicus in origin, moving to intercept, Captain Pak discovered onboard the rogue tech Vorl whom they had previously (on the insistence of the Vitanteur Syndicate) ferried to Footfall from Hiveworld Decusis; Vorl claimed to have been captured on an enemy raid and to have pretended to defect, in his gratitude at having been rescued he revealed Lorgar intended to use the ancient recording device to locate something in the system that would allow some sort of “rebirth.”

The actual combat was played out identically to a normal combat (using attack/defence rolls) with the two elite crewed ships going first and the rest following in no particular order (I generally went player ships first and then enemy ships), each point of stress taken ticked off one of the ships stress boxes. Players were allowed to spend their fate points to re-roll/boost their rolls for ships that their characters were on, as long as they had an appropriate Aspect; this mainly came into play with Admiral Black since his Aspects are mostly based around being a ship’s Captain and they pretty much allowed the Venerus to come through the combat unscathed.
Due to the speed of the vessels involved and the distances under consideration I did not use zones in this combat simply alerting the players when the enemy ships were entering range; the Venerus had moved to the other side of the moon to conceal itself, I had Admiral Black make a command roll against the command roll of Lorgar Khan, the players won and thus were not spotted until too late.
A fate point was offered for an additional complication and, when accepted, this lead to the pickup of the Adeptus Mechanicus signal from the rogue-tech Vorl and some additional information about Lorgar Khan’s goals being revealed. 

Relaying this information to Admiral Black, Captain Pak headed down to planet in a landing craft and began broadcasting a signal to draw any survivors from the Lunatic Pandora to them, as they began to arrive in dribs and drabs he was happy to see that Captain Polaris had survived (apparently after a crew member had knocked him out and put him in an escape pod); however the surface of the planet was rapidly coming a war zone as the survivors from both sides began to battle through the streets.

 Because it didn’t seem very interesting to just rule that everyone was dead (and as a lead in to the next session) I rules that a lot of people would have made it to escape vessels and would be heading for the nearby moon of Strive (where the player characters spent much of the previous session).
This nicely sets up a battlezone style scenario for the next game and allows for a more satisfying confrontation with the enemy other than just blowing up his ship (whilst still rewarding the players for their inventiveness with the teleportarium, since they have deprived Lorgar Khan of much of his mobility).

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 18: Death in the Black

With the second wave of enemy ships approaching Lord Admiral Black looked around at the ragged remnant of his fleet and took stock of the force that he has to take on the encroaching heretics, his flagship, the Venerus, was largely untouched (aside from some minor cosmetic damage), the Lunatic Pandora was functional but had sustained heavy damaged and the Rod Hant was currently fighting off boarders from the first wave of the enemy, and they had only a couple of days before the mainstay of Lorgar Khan’s fleet arrived.
Over the course of the first day Admiral Black helped Captain Pak repel the boarders on the Rod Hant and eventually they succeeding in killing the last one, although a lengthy check for sabotage and explosives did means that they did not have time to fully repair the extensive damage that the Rod Hant had sustained in the previous combat. Realising that, in their present shape, they could not hope to challenge the mighty Battle Barge of the traitor Astarted Lorgar Khan they concocted a desperate plan whereby they would use the ancient teleportarium aboard the Venerus to teleport a fire-linked collection of krak missiles and other explosives into the engine room of the enemy vessel.
As they readied themselves for combat on the second day, Admiral Black sat on the bridge watching the approaching fleet, his wife at his side and placed his head in his hands; suddenly he was no longer on the bridge of the Venerus but was standing in the royal chambers on his homeworld of Telec Prime, groups of panicked medical technicians were running down a corridor towards a room that he recognised as belong to his father Macharius Black, almost without thinking the Admiral followed them. In the room Macharius, looking sickly, his eyes yellowed and his face (which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Admiral) pale, he was railing against the med-techs who appeared to be informing him that his treatments were no longer proving effective; shouting that there was none to take his place leading the family if he died, Macharius ordered them to send for his sons, there must be other technology out there that could preserve his life.
A voice called out to Admiral Black and he jerked awake in the command chair, his wife Lady Dominique Decusis-Black was shaking his arm and looking at him in a concerned manner, but he waved away her concerns saying that he was fine. Captain Pak had finished adapting one of the damaged murder servitors from the Lunatic Pandora and had wired it into the trigger mechanism of the bomb that they had constructed, as the first enemy ships entered range and began to open fire with macro-batteries Pak began to have the teleportarium chamber prepped for dispatch; Navigator York Benetec had been psychically scanning the area and relayed the coordinates for the likely location of the engine room about the enemy battle barge.
As his mind probed the area of space around them, Benetec felt another presence and, sensing that it was not hostile, allowed it to make contact with him; Benetec found himself on a prosperous world of fluted silver towers and happy people, the hazy psychic projection of the chaos sorceror Kantor Pilus floating next to him. Pilus showed Benetec how his homeworld had been devastated by the Astartes after their leader had attempted to use forbidden sorcery to warn the Emperor of treachery from within, “although we were right, this was our reward” mocked the sorceror with a touch of sadness in his voice. Pilus attempted to persuade Benetec that if they just handing the ancient recording device to Lorgar that much bloodshed could be avoided, Benetec refused and broke off the psychic connection.
Combat was erupting in the space around the moon of Strive, there was a series of explosions as the Lunatic Pandora buckled and then was torn apart amidst a hail of projectiles and lance fire; the teleportarium hummed aboard the Venerus and, as the large bomb disappeared, it looked for a moment as though the plan might not succeed and then a huge blast torn apart the rear section of the encroaching battle barge the explosion engulfing one of the other four clan ships that accompanied it. Macro-batteries from the Venerus made short work of two more but both it and the Rod Hant has taken serious damage.
The space around Strive filled with escape pods and short range craft as the survivors of ruined ships on both sides sort to make their way planet side; the remaining enemy clan ship attempted to flee, laying mines to cover it’s tracks but it was destroyed by the Venerus, York Benetec was able to use his psychic powers to direct the ships mine defence lasers to target and take out the remaining mines. Meanwhile the Rod Hant had picked up a signal coming from an escaped enemy shuttle that was recognisably Adpetus Mechanicus in origin, moving to intercept, Captain Pak discovered onboard the rogue tech Vorl whom they had previously (on the insistence of the Vitanteur Syndicate) ferried to Footfall from Hiveworld Decusis; Vorl claimed to have been captured on an enemy raid and to have pretended to defect, in his gratitude at having been rescued he revealed Lorgar intended to use the ancient recording device to locate something in the system that would allow some sort of “rebirth.”
Relaying this information to Admiral Black, Captain Pak headed down to planet in a landing craft and began broadcasting a signal to draw any survivors from the Lunatic Pandora to them, as they began to arrive in dribs and drabs he was happy to see that Captain Polaris had survived (apparently after a crew member had knocked him out and put him in an escape pod); however the surface of the planet was rapidly coming a war zone as the survivors from both sides began to battle through the streets.

RPG Blog Carnival – November 2013: Invasion of the Pod People

The RPG Blog Carnival is an idea to get groups of bloggers to all writing about a monthly topic, the aim being to build a dialogue across many different blogs, providing different viewpoints and ideas to the viewer. The way it works is that a blog discussing a monthly topic will post the RPG Carnival Logo and will link back to the ‘hosters’ post.
This month the topic is situated around plots and treason! Suggestions of political or military coups or circumstances that maybe through design or the wrong location at the wrong time result in your PCs getting tangled up in matters that are usually hidden by shadows.
As per my original post on this subject (http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/rpg-blog-carnival-november-2013.html) I enjoy occasionally subverting the normal stereotypes that are expected in RPGs to create a more interesting scenario. Such is the case in this scenario…
Invasion of the Pod People

Please note: I have tried to keep this scenario fairly generic so that it could be dropped into different games with a minimum of effort, NPCs do not have concrete stats however I have tried to give them keywords to hint at what sort of statistics they should have.
This story is inspired by the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers and a modern day game based loosely on the film recently run by a friend of mine.

Synopsis: The players discover that a number of members of the galactic senate/government are being replaced by a strange race of biological mimics descended from plant growths; what is the goal of the strange plant creatures? How far do their roots extend into the galactic senate and would rule by the pod people be so terrible?
Background: This scenario assumes the presence of a galactic government or senate, the scale of this is left deliberately vague (it could be a single sector or a galaxy spanning Empire, whatever your story requires).
The story also assumes that most NPCs are human, this can be altered in your game to suit as long as the distinction between the pod-people and the ‘normal’ races of your campaign is obvious.
How are the players bought into this story: This story begins with the players discovering that not everyone in the galactic senate is what they appear to be; there are a number of ways that this could happen, some of them are listed below:
  • The assassination of Senator Vree: One of the galactic senators is assassinated in the presence of the players via a suitably gruesome method (high powered rifle, explosion, etc), the players discover that instead of blood, a deep green sap-like substance stains the area around the crime scene.
  • The players witness a group of figures kidnapping a member of the galactic senate, the next day the Senator appears to give a speech and seems fine (denying any suggestion of kidnapping, saying the player characters must have been mistaken); however during the speech Senator Sevan does not push for increased resource mining in the asteroid belts strewn throughout the system, but instead calls for a more careful husbanding of resources.
  • One of the players (or a group of them) is kidnapped, they wake up in a cell with a strange plant or pod attached to them by whispy rootlets, when they break free the pod cracks open, pouring out a dark green slime and revealing a slimey, half-formed doppleganger of themselves.
  • The characters are asteroid miners, the corporation they work for has been granted extensive mining rights by the Galactic Senate, the players weren’t on the initial survey team but since then the digs seem cursed with numerous accidents threatening to shut down production.

The Ashpodel (Pod People)

The Ashpodel are a species of subterranean plant that live within the fissures of the many asteroids strewn throughout the system, although intelligent and possessing a collective intelligence they are generally happy to just lie around soaking up the cosmic radiation that sustains them; this all changed when the Galactic Senate gave approval for increased mining rights to a number of large corporations within the area. Previously operations were limited to a number of small asteroids and the intelligence plants generally ignored the operations, keeping out of the humans way and being mistaken for more mundane varieties of asteroid based plant-life, however the more recent industrial scale operations threaten the larger asteroids and the very existence of the pod people.
If you imagine each of the plants as a cell in a large brain, shedding one or two cells (as was the case with the few plants that died previously during the small scale mining operations) would not harm the whole, however, the new operations threaten to wipe out vastly more of the plants.
Unable to move in their natural form the plants have taken to colonising the miners themselves and the group-intelligence behind them is attempting to use its pawns to have the mining operations in the sector shut down.
It goes about it (assuming it is not interrupted) using the following steps:
  • Takes control of Theo Lerant, the person overseeing the mining operation (this has occurred before the start of the game) and used him to send lots of people to the various asteroids (ostensibly for surveying purposes), these people are themselves then colonised and used as pawns. Once this is done the overseers arranges a series of accidents that slow down/halt the progress of the actual mining.
  • The plants new pawns carry seeds in their bodies back to their homeworlds, each attempting to infect someone of importance.
  • Since the plants absorb the knowledge of the people they infect and take-over it does not take them long to work out that the Galactic Senate controls who has access to the mining rights, their number one priority then becomes infecting someone high up in the council and preventing further mining.

Azoic Mining Corporation

The Azoic Mining Corporation is a multi-system conglomerate who specialises in planting mining rigs on asteroids and space debris and then drilling into them to mine various minerals that they then sell on for a profit; the company is run by Theola Saren daughter of retired business mogul Thanus Saren, and she sees it as something of a family legacy to take a direct hand in running the business.
Previously mining in this system has been restricted due to the fact that surveying showed a profundity of asteroid based plant-life in the area; however Theola has acquired some evidence of a personal ‘indiscretion’ by Senator Sevan and has used this as leverage to persuade the senator to back her call for exclusive mining rights in the system. Faced with the ruination of his career, Senator Sevan has used his popularity and contacts within the senate to push through the mining rights and grant exclusive (and extensive) mining rights to the Azoic Mining Corporation; in return he received a generous kickback and the only copy of the evidence of his indiscretion.
Yuo Lerant is the person overseeing the mining operations and initial asteroid surveying; following an incident on a large asteroid designated KT206 Theo and his team were all infected by the Ashpodel. Following the plants master plan Yuo dispatched survey teams to each of the asteroids housing the plants (this may be a way for canny players to locate the source of the infection if they can get Yuo’s records) where they too were infected. Each of the survey teams then returned and carried spores within their bodies ready to infect more people following the Ashpodel’s plan.

In order to prevent any further mining menacing the Ashpodel and to dispose of the few members of the mining crew who weren’t infected, Yuo and his infected cronies arranged a series of ‘accidents’ where a lot of miners were killed; this has caused mining operations to be shut down whilst an investigation is carried out (by the time this is underway the Ashpodel plan to have worked their way into the Senate).

Annoyed by the lack of progress and accident rate, Theola has arrived in system to head the investigation personally, looking for trustworthy people to help delve into the cause of the problems.
The goals of the corporation are:
  • Find out what has caused the current incidents.
  • Allay the fears/concerns of the Galactic Senate.
  • Get production and mining re-started.
 

RPG Blog Carnival – November 2013: Gunpowder, Treason & Plot – Turning the plot on it's head

The RPG Blog Carnival is an idea to get groups of bloggers to all writing about a monthly topic, the aim being to build a dialogue across many different blogs, providing different viewpoints and ideas to the viewer. The way it works is that a blog discussing a monthly topic will post the RPG Carnival Logo and will link back to the ‘hosters’ post.
This month the topic is situated around plots and treason! Suggestions of political or military coups or circumstances that maybe through design or the wrong location at the wrong time result in your PCs getting tangled up in matters that are usually hidden by shadows.
I thought that instead of producing a ready made plot or conspiracy for people to drop into their game that i’d talk a little bit about how we tend to stereotype this kind of plot and how we can add a little more complexity by either expanding on these tired old tropes of gaming or can flip the stereotype around to provide a little contrast.
What do I mean by stereotyping?

Well in roleplaying games GMs tend to use a certain amount of shorthand when it comes to describing characters and world elements; this is not only understandable to a certain degree but it is entirely necessary, after all the GM has to manage (and possibly create) the entire campaign world, it would not be possible for a single person to detail every last peasant or small village in a D&D/fantasy world nor every backwater colony or space station in a science fiction setting (and this similarly applies to other genres, but you get the idea). Whilst any good GM will do their best to make sure that even disposable NPCs or places have a few quirky little details to make them interested and that can be expanded upon later should the NPC/setting become more important to the overall plot of the game, there are certain standard tropes for each genre that tend to get trotted out.

A few examples are:

  • The brawny barbarian who doesn’t fit in civilised society.
  • The stealthy, black cowled thief.
  • A good natured tavern owner whose family run the tavern.
  • A small village settlement where the locals are superstitious and look at any new people as “strangers.”
  • The totalitarian galactic empire who manages to almost entirely suppress a large area of the galaxy.
…and there are loads more stereotypes that can be used in a game.
Stereotypes like this (when used in moderation) can be a useful shorthand for a GM in a game and they instantly give the players an idea of how to behave or react to whatever is being presented to them; for example, when the players enter the superstitious village they know that throwing magic or strange items around is liable to result in an attempted lynching or worse.
So how does this apply to plots & treason

Well plots, rebellions and treason also have a long-standing history with RPGs, everyone is familiar with the idea of the players helping a local populace to overcome a corrupt noble regime or the aforementioned galactic rebellion; however because this is such a well known trope it can be a little obvious or tiresome if used as the basis of a long-running campaign. There are a few ways to subvert this stereotype and inject some additional interest into such a campaign and i’m going to discuss a couple of them in a little more detail below.
i) Flip the stereotype on it’s head

When use sparingly the idea of reversing or flipping the stereotype can work really well to break from the usual mold and to add a bit of additional interest to a session. For example, instead of having the players arrive and help an oppressed population of peasants overthrow a corrupt nobility, perhaps the noble family who rules the area does generally have the best interest of the populace at heart, but some organisation or group of malcontents is stirring up the peasantry against their rules for some reason or as part of some nefarious scheme, with this idea you then have the additional level of the shadowed groups scheme as well.
If you use this idea too much though then the players may (rightfully) feel a little confused or paranoid whilst playing in your gameworld, if everything is not what it seems then they will start reacting to everything with suspicion having a detrimental effect on your game (unless a constant mood of paranoia is what you’re looking for in your game); but used sparingly this technique of turning the stereotype on its head can make an otherwise very obvious story a little more interesting.

ii) Expand on the Idea

Touched on briefly in the example above, another good way to add additional interest to this type of plot is to expand on the initial idea or add extra layers to the plot; now this may not be feasible if you’re running a one-off game or a very short campaign due to time restraints, however, if you are running a more long-term campaign then adding some extra layers to your plot can result unexpected twists and turns, additional mileage from the plot and a narrative that seems less like a cardboard cutout/stereotyped scenario (I hope to produce some further posts this month containing a few samples that demonstrate this).
In terms of how to expand on the idea, what if the evil baron leading the revolution is not actually doing so because he is invested in it but because someone is holding his daughter hostage and is forcing him to use his contacts and sway with the people to lead the revolution? Instantly this scenario conjures up a number of additional questions, how did the shadowy mastermind get hold of the Baron’s daughter? Was the Baron betrayed from within? Why does the mastermind need the Baron? Who is the mastermind? What benefit do they gain from the revolution?