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Shooting Stars - 5/1/04

Started by jeffd, May 03, 2004, 04:06:44 AM

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Ron wanted more actual play.  Here's some.  

background:  Shooting stars is run by my friend Jim.  The premise of the game is that it's a sci-fi TV show, inspired by Firefly and Farscape.  And Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  Yes, Slayer in Space.  :)  

Me:  Captain Dayne, captain and pilot of our ship the Dawn.  
Em:  Lynnaea, 16 year old medical student.  Chosen One aka Vampire Slayer
Tina:  A canuch named April (the ch is hard, yes we make jokes about it).  The Canuch are an offshoot of humanity with vastly superior physical strength.  
Wolf:  Von, a male prostitute who's finding religion.
Luke:  D, a mysterious cyborg type with no memories who apparently was allied to the last Chosen One

Situation:  At the end of the last episode we agreed to take a package to the Canuch homeworld of Jol.  The package had the typical wrist bracelet thing (think Benecio del Toro in Snatch).  Von volunteered to be the guy to wear it.  Catch is that it poisoned him with a neurotoxin, giving him four days to live.  Guess they really wanted to ensure the case gets delivered.

My Impressions:  Fun session, better than the previous few.  A few annoying points - it dragged particularly at a few parts, and there was some frustrating moments for me.

What happeend:  We made the jump to Jol space, where we were interecpted by a pair of Canuck ships that used some sort of never-seen before cloaking field to disguise us from the local Helios Confederation authorities (we're kind of wanted by the Confed).  We make our way to the planet, where we're taken to meet with the Canuck Council of Six.  The Council expressses surprise and dismay at Von's condition.  Upon opening the case, they discover a vial which is given to Von; apparently it delays (but doesn't eliminate) the neurotoxin.  We're told that basically we are going to have to go back to the jump point to pick up a Clannad (race of aliens who were recently at war with the Helios Confederation) ambassador and take him in secrecy back to the planet, at which point he'll furnish us with the antivenom.  A few other things happen.

So we make our way to the jump point, once again cloaked.  A Clannad ship shows up and kicks out an escape pod before leaving - the escape pod has six life signs on it.  Not a good sign.  We pick it up, and the Clannad ambassador introduces himself and his five very big very angry looking bodyguards.  When the Clannad steps on the ship, our AI (named Watcher) starts shrieking about "Demonic intrusion detected"

The bodyguards prepare weapons.  Von grabs the ambassador and holds him as a shield by his throat.  being the quick thinking type, I close the airlock (the bodyguards are still in the pod).  The players applaud my quick thinking.  

Frustrating Moment:  OK to me right here we've got a vintage sci-fi scene.  We've outsmarted the bad guys, we have the guy we want to talk to in our clutches, etc.  I'm pumped for it.  So what happens?  First the bodyguards in a show of strength break the window of the airlock with his sword.  Then the players start telling me to open the door, let them go, etc etc.  I don't, another character does.  WTF!?!?!  We've got our enemy in hand, pretty much at our mercy so we can get the antivenom for Von.  I'm honestly not sure why the players reacted this way - I could float several theories (abused players instinct of "the GM will screw us!", worries about sending the 'story' off track if we mess things up, etc.  Either way it was hideously frustrating for me - I think it would have made for much better TV to have rammed my pistol down the ambassador's throat and had a nice heart-to-heart with him about poisoning my crew member.

So anyway, we make him comfy, a few characters apologize, we take him back to the planet and let him off.  Kind of a comical moment as the players were expecting to be taken along with the ambassador back to the Council and it became clear that there wasn't a car for us.  

We get back.  Council puts us up in a hotel.  Cue several days of waiting and basically doing nothing.  

A few more frustrations
At one point Lynnaea and April went vampire hunting.  Here's where the GM's task-resolution instinct kicked in - rather than cut straight to a nice fight with vampires, we had a thirty minute long series of rolls and narration.  "Roll Per+Observe to find vampires... you find nothing... maybe you should go to another part of the city... roll Per+Observe... you see a few guys following some girls out of a club.  Roll Dex+Stealth to follow... you follow them a ways... roll Dex+Stealth again... you follow them further.  THey go into an alley.  The vampires attack.  Now lets whittle down their health for three or four rounds of combat.  Uh-oh one's running, roll Stamina + Endurance to catch it...  it's getting away, roll again, ooh you tackled it with a critical success"  

Not fun at all as an audience member.  Can't imagine it was too fun for Tina and Em, but I don't know.

How I would have done it (and I might, Jim wants us to Guest Direct episodes, basically GM a single session here and there):  Roll to find the vamps.  If they fail they're walking around a few hours later all dejected at their inability to blow off steam when they're taken unaware by a vampire attack.  If they succeed then we cut straight to midfight, with a single roll to dust each one.  

So days pass.  We get a serum from the hospital's very nice doctor which will slow the toxin.  We sit around and wait for the GM to throw something at us.  AT one point April meets with the High Elder in a secret scene.  I hate secret scenes - if something cool is going to happen let the rest of us in on it!  

final bit of frustration:  Scene framing was really bleh, IMO.  There were a few times where I tried to just say "OK so the next morning finds us in the council chamber" but the GM didn't seem to like that - instead it was we wake up, narrate driving over to the chamber, narrate encountering the receptionist, narrate a 10 minute wait, *then* we get to see the council.  So we're in there, the council is blowing smoke up our ass "We're negotiating for the serum, etc etc" when they get news that the Helios Confederation is coming down for a visit.  

Ambassador bursts in (he was listening in secretly), panicking over the Confederation finding out he's here and hwo he needs to get off planet RIGHT NOW.  At this point we've got my money line.  "We'd be happy to take you off world, Ambassador" with a smug grin.

So we go back to the hotel to get his goons, Helios confed attacks, ambassador is shot RIGHT IN THE PLACE WHERE THE VIAL IS.  I go to get the ship while the rest of the crew goes to the hospital to give the doctor what remains of the antivenom to synthesize some of it.  He'll have some for us in a week, and in the meantime here's a two week supply of the stuff that slows the toxin.  We hop out to the Jump Point and it's back to Dal Bootha, where the guy who gave us this job in the first place is.  I want to have a talk with him about poisoning my crewmate.

So forge goers, I'd say the two things lacking in this session is scene framing and some real protagonizatin - mostly we just waited around for the GM to hand us something.  What was really frustrating is that judging by their characters actions the other players *wanted* that - they were actively adverse to being anything but polite and accomodating to the Clannad and Canuch.  Dunno how the GM felt about it.  I'll prlly link him to the post here so he can get my feedback.


Zak Arntson

I highly suggest talking to your GM about this. I was in a dysfunctional game that sounded similar: Solo secret gaming, players just tagging along for the ride, lots of nothing happening (you can read about it here, if you like). If you don't give him the link to the thread, at the very least email or call him up. And don't feel bad if the other players are having a good time and you're not. In that case, it's time to leave the group.