Posted in Adventures, GM Prep, Role-playing Sessions, Star Trek Adventures

Unintended Side Effects: First Attempt at a Star Trek Adventures Adventure

A few people in my gaming group or huge Star Trek fans, my wife included, so with our Achtung! Cthulhu game wrapping up, they tasked me with running Modiphius’ new Star Trek Adventures.  Our group had playtested the system and liked it a lot.  To be honest I don’t think the rules mattered that much; any excuse for my players to act like they were in Star Fleet was enough.   Three seconds into the sessions and it was already like “Yes Captain” and “set phasers to stun.”  But alas this blog post isn’t actually about the game itself but my attempt at creating an adventure for it.  You see I while the available adventures are quite good I had a few of my own ideas.  What follows was the mission I used for the Maiden Voyage of the USS Schrödinger.

“Unintended Side Effects”

The Setup:

The new colony on Fenris IV hasn’t checked in in 10 months.  They never asked for their usual 6 months resupply.  Head out there and conduct a wellness check on the colony, render what aid you can.

(if you are someone playing in a Star Trek Adventures game you may want to stop reading this blog now, but instead, share a link to this blog with your GM so they can mine my adventure for ideas that they may want to use in their future adventures)

What has happened:

Six months ago an alien lifeform known as the Record Keeper crashed into the planet near the colony by accident.  It was injured by another race in a nearby system.  It tried to land on Fenris IV when it detected power and an advanced civilization.  It had trouble entering the atmosphere and crashed.

The being soon created an avatar for itself and observed the populous.  They caught glimpses of it and thought it was a monster.  The Record Keeper started creating a neural field around the colony so that he can penetrate their brain waves and make them think he was one of them.  Something he has done on hundreds of worlds.  Soon, however, the populous of the colony started getting sick.

The Record Keeper discovered that its own blood the runoff from the crash was poisoning the water and killing all in the area.  Unable to halt his lifeblood from flowing into the water and unable to move his vessel the Record Keeper did the only thing he knew.  He created synthetic vessels for the biological lifeforms.  He infiltrated the colony as a doctor and cured the sick by placing their heads inside a synthetic body.  Thus preserving their life.  The neural field, of course, made it so no one was the wiser.   Over the next 4 months, most of the colony was replaced.  However, supplies are scarce so the synthetic bodies were only what the Record Keeper had on hand or was able to replicate.

The Record Keeper

Is an anthropologist. It records species culture and knowledge and takes it back to its homeworld (The Core) every millennium.  It was on its way back when it got attacked.   It is dying it knows that and has resigned itself that fate.  In fact, it has cut off the colony’s communication with the outside universe in order to make sure no others get harmed unintentionally.   However, if a way out does present itself (like a starship with enough computer power to hold itself and all its knowledge) it will revert back to its original mission and do whatever it takes (without harming others) to get its knowledge back to The Core.

So that is the basis for the situation.  Here are my bullet points for prep:

Mission Briefing

  • Colony on Fenris IV hasn’t checked in 10 months
  • They never asked for their usual 6-month resupply
  • Please Deliver the usual supplies to the colony and do a wellness check on them

Initial Scans of Planet

  • A lot of life forms present on the planet.
  • A lot fewer lifeforms per area inside the colony area
  • Only 2 Human Lifeforms present

Landing

  • Flora around the area is wilting no animal noises
  • Small metal towers – non-federation standard around area
  • Entering area Requires a Daring + Command Check difficulty 2

Raving Lunatic (seen outside of town)- Kabel Belleros  18 years old.

  • “The forest Monster has infiltrated the community”
  • Claims they have all been taken over
  • Flash in the sky 6 months ago.  The earth shook.
  • “Don’t go! It will change you too.”
  • “My own mother’s a thing now” “It’s not her I swear it. It’s not her.”
  • Insight + Command to calm him down. (people started getting sick. But then the Doctor showed up.  And the sick got well overnight)

Hexiped Attack

  • Dog size feathered hexapeds growl at the group. They look gaunt and hungry, feathers wet smelly and carnivorous.
  • Fear and hunger dominate thoughts.
  • Xenobiology – they are sick desperate a significant show of aggression may scare them off.

The Colony

  • The crops are all wilted or dead.  The tree bark looks slimy and is falling off. (If failed test Daring Command upon entering everything looks great. Healthy plants a field full of crops normal happy people)
  • The Structures are all intact and you see people moving about.
  • People harvesting fields with dead crops
  • Insight + Security 1 (IF PASSED Daring Check) – the people have an odd shape they aren’t human.

The Colonist

  • Look like bulky cobbled together robots to those that passed the Daring + Command Check Otherwise they appear perfectly normal.
  • Colonists have metallic facsimiles of faces some have a bit of articulation while some do not.
  • They are all wearing poncho like clothing covering their bulk.
  • They are friendly to the crew.  Thanking them for checking up on them but no need.  They are self-sufficient now.  Though they should see if the doctor has need of medicine.  The doctor is such a great guy saved many of the colony members who got sick.
  • Doctor out collecting herbs and medicine’s should be back before nightfall.

Meanwhile on Ship

  • Once the time for gossip to spread has occurred.   Normal shipboard functions stop working correctly (replicators, holodeck transporters)
  • Reason + (Security or Engineering)
  • Ships computer becomes overwhelmed with incoming data.
  • Something is writing itself into the computers AI.
  • Data coming from the planet.
  • Data coming in through sensor arrays
  • Sensors cutoffs inoperable.
  • This overflow of incoming data makes communication with the away team rather difficult.  Checks required.

The Doctor

  • Herbert Hemingway (Record Keeper)
  • No thoughts you can read.
  • Looks like a well-designed robot. Arms legs notable socket in the back of the head.
  • Non-violent
  • Tries to bluff but if confronted admits truth… first 3 bullet points below

The Truth

  • The Hausairans* attacked him when he was leaving the system. Managed to get to warp. But was injured. It Located a power supply on Fenris IV but entry into the atmosphere was unstable. Crashed nearby.  Tried to observe colony before approach. Locals who saw him thought he was a monster.  Then he realized the waste leaking from the crash site was making the land and the people sick. He did what he had to do to save the souls of intelligent biological life.
  • Borrowed much of synthetic body design from the Botrex* design.
  • Waste killing people is his blood. He is the ship that crashed
  • He is uploading himself to the ship in order to commandeer it.  He must return his knowledge to The Core.
  • Plans on putting crew in suspended animation for the journey
  • Extended task to retain control of ship work 5 magnitude 3 resistance 1. (2 threat to increase resistance) (2 threat to release knockout gas on ship)

*The Hausairans and the Botrex are two alien races I intend to introduce in future voyages.

 

This idea; A colony replaced by a benevolent alien who accidentally was killing them, was originally the plot of a Numenera adventure I was working on (I still may write that up for a future CypherCaster) but the plot seemed to fit a Trek adventure quite well as well.  What was cool about this adventure is I didn’t have to write up an outcome.  I just had to present the problem.  I had no idea what the players would do.

So what did my player end up doing?  Well with the away team set to blow up their shuttle in order to destroy the rest of the Record Keepers body, and the Record Keeper close to taking over the USS Schrödinger, the Captain was able to convince it to stand down by offering to mind meld with It. Yes, the Vulcan Captain went all Star Trek 2/3 on the situation and melded with the Record Keeper transferring its katra into himself.   The doctor warned the captain that this could kill him.  The roll was very very difficult but with a few momentum spends and he was able to succeed with 6 successes.  So now a  millennia worth of information is locked away in the captain’s brain….. Ohh there will be consequences 🙂 (and a season long arc for the Captian has been established)

Posted in GM Prep, Masks

X-Pelled Issue 3: GM Missteps

After the high of Issue 2, I thought I had this GMing PBtA thing down, boy was I wrong.  I should have known better.   Issue 3’s problems were partly my fault and partly circumstance.  It was my fault because I had let my familiarity with the rules and the heart of the game lapse.  I was reading up on other rule systems and not making sure Masks: A New Generation was fresh in my mind like I did for Issues 1 and 2 so I was quite rusty.  The Second issue was, I had one of the players cancel the day we were set to play.  Luckily he wasn’t a focal point of my prep (actually I  already had an easy exit for this character in my bullet points), but the player was the kind of player that drives actions and makes decisions easily which keeps the game moving.  I knew his presence at the table would be missed and didn’t have much time to figure out how to compensate.

So with a little bit of further ado, I’ll show you the Bullet points I prepped for Issue 3.   There were a lot more than for Issue 2 but now that the plot had escalated I needed to do a little bit of juggling so I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave anyone out.

So here they are:

  • Wolverine and Pryde discussing Options or lack thereof given to Cythor
  • 2 weeks later
  • Marc Hopper and Slip-stream part of the team
  • Slip-Stream screws up in training Obsidian gets hit.
  • Slip stream confronts Mobius about feelings
  • Cythor at Beat Street Club – How has he integrated.
  • Disk in Star Child’s locker – showing footage from the day of his accident.  Vanisher was there Vanisher stole something sabotaging the dig.
  • Mobius gets pulled out of the timeline.

I started like I always do talking about the cover for the issue.  I wanted it to be something iconic encapsulating the fallout of the end of Issue 2.  I asked the players and they decided on a top down shot of an empty classroom desk, with Cythors names carved into one of the corners amongst other small bits of defacement.  It was a great idea and encompassed the tone of the Issue.635981889605435507911660857_empty chair Continue reading “X-Pelled Issue 3: GM Missteps”

Posted in General Writing, GM Prep, Masks

X-Pelled: Issue 2 Part 2

This is a continuation of Issue 2 of my Masks: A New Generation Game Check out Issue 1 and Part 1 of Issue 2 if you have missed them.

When we last left the group they were hanging out of the rooftop having lunch, and Star Chyld was failing to convince the group he was seeing an evil version of Mobius around.   That was until Marc Hopper was thrown through a window below them followed closely by Fabien storming out the door.

Fabian is clearly pissed at him and the words he uses conveys that.  The “Heroes” stand and watch.  So Marc creates a bunch of illusions of himself and Fabian gets really angry and starts shooting lighting and attacking each one. (Note to Marvel fans.  Since I accidentally created a drug that replicates the powers of Fabian Cortez I decided I had to change his powers. Sorry)  Mobius runs to get a teacher while the rest of the party watches from above.  However once Fabian strikes the real Marc Hopper knocking him into a tree and unconscious, the party jumps into action, quickly detaining the furious Fabian.

I decided it was time for the facility to get involved so as they take Marc and Fabien to the infirmary an assembly is called.  Cythor decided to split off from the team while sitting down he received a text message from his father “outside 1 hour”.  While everyone is getting settled Slip-Stream slips in and sits next to Mobius.  This I did mainly to stir the pot and see what happens.  Slip-Stream talked about the fight and how she had already put in a request to be removed from Fabian’s team because he is a jerk.  Mobius sexual preference didn’t come up (you have to let some plot-lines percolate) but the players were sure waiting for the shoe to drop. Continue reading “X-Pelled: Issue 2 Part 2”

Posted in GM Prep, Masks, Role-playing Sessions

X-Pelled – Issue 2 (part 1)

After the over-preparing I did for Issue 1 of Masks, I decided to go the opposite direction for Issue 2.  I had a vague Idea where I was taking the story line so I only had 4 Small Bullet Points for Issue 2, they were:

  • Shinobi Shaw meets with Cythor  and Star Chyld
  • Fabian gets in trouble at school Hurts Marc Hopper -Drug (RUSH) is involved.
  • Star Chyld still having visions of Mobious
  • Beast – Obsidian Scene.

 

I started the session once again talking about the cover of the Issue.  I knew Fabian was going to be an antagonist and Dr. Eternity was going to be involved as well.  I decided to go out on a limb. A dramatic cover was going to have a member of the cast on the ground in another team members arms while Fabian stands over and Dr. Eternity over them all.  I figured the Nova was the best bet his powers rely on him taking conditions and he still had a few leftover from the last session.  So Star Chyld was on the Ground being held by Obsidian.  It was a great image the players loved it, now I had to figure out how to get there.

I started with the last bullet point first.  Obsidian is a transformed someone who doesn’t fit in and can never look like everyone else.  Beast was supposed to be Obsidian’s mentor but I hadn’t had a scene with them yet.  So we started there.  Beast was asking about the team leadership and how Obsidian was fitting in.  Obsidian being a teen was playing aloof, noncommunicative and uninterested in what Beast had to say.  Obsidian basically ended with “I’m here because I won’t be accepted anywhere else.  I either make it work or I have nothing.”   Not what Beast wanted to hear.  I didn’t have Beast push the issue instead I just let the scene end.

The next major scene took place at Star Chyld’s locker. I let the players frame the scene.  Star Chyld was trying to show off the new handheld (Guessing Nintendo Switch) he picked up with his dad’s credit card, trying to prove that he’s cool.  This is where I had an idea.  The players early on talked about wanting to embrace the cliqued teen angst and drama of the High School setting, so I decided to go After School special and see what happens.  In the locker, another player notices a strange envelope, inside was 5 tabs of RUSH, the postage stamp type drug we established in Issue 1.   In Issue 1 Star Chyld took the drug so I wasn’t sure what they would do in response.  They all got conspiratorial, Star claimed it wasn’t his no idea how it got there and they were going to hide it and get rid of it.  The Delinquent, Cythor said he’d take care of it, and as he grabbed the envelope, Fabian Showed up grabbed the new Handheld Star Chyld had and acted impressed.  I was trying to convey that Fabian was a jerk yes but still just a high schooler trying to impress and maybe in a strange way make friends.  The group wasn’t having it, however, and unpleasantly told Fabian to take a hike.  Before he left he whispered to Cythor “Hey if you want to cut class and take a couple of those let me know”  indicating he saw Cythor pocket the RUSH.

Continue reading “X-Pelled – Issue 2 (part 1)”

Posted in GM Prep, Masks, Role-playing Sessions

X-Pelled – Session 1 GM Prep and Reflection

X-Pelled is my Masks: A New Generation Game in an original Marvel timeline where the players are playing students at Jean Grey’s school of Higher Learning.  To learn more about the cast and the start of the game check out my previous article:

Prepping for a Season of Masks: A New Generation. As Marvel X – kids…

 

xpelled
please excuse my horrible design skills 🙂

 

I started my GM prep with two things going to happen.  One they were going to start the Session in the middle of a Danger Room Battle, and two they were going to a Dance Club (seeded into the Episode 0 Play) and a Sentinel was going to attach the Club while they were there. (ok maybe 3 things were going to happen)

In my group’s Worlds in Peril game Kingpin was horrifically killed by a slightly insane Hyperion.  With Fisk gone I figured this would leave a power vacuum in organized crime in NY.   So I figured I would come up with two groups to fight over that Vacuum and have the PCs running afoul of them.  Quick easy Meta Plot.    The problem is what two groups would work. Well, this is the Mutant side of Marvel, so the Hellfire Club makes a lot of sense.  The problem is these X-Men are teens so the Hellfire Club may just be too big and adult.  The party wanted to lean into the Teen drama so I wanted to try the teen outcasts angle as one group.   You know; someone trying to pull the group away from the righteous protectors of man, mutant propaganda the X school will be filling their heads with.  So looking through the interwebs I stumbled across a group called the Fallen Angels.  A great idea for a drug dealing, nightclub owning burgeoning crime syndicate.  Former X-students and general riff-raff who just want to have fun and live it up in NYC.  What about that wouldn’t appeal to Teen-Age mutants. Continue reading “X-Pelled – Session 1 GM Prep and Reflection”

Posted in GM Prep, Masks, Role-playing Sessions

Prepping for a Season of Masks: A New Generation. As Marvel X – kids…

A few months ago I was talking to one of my gaming regulars about never having played a Powered by the Apocalypse game.  He happened to be playing in an online game of “Worlds in Peril” in a few days that had an open slot and so he invited me to join.  I, of course, said “Hell Yeah.”  This particular game was being run in the Marvel Universe but in the GM’s own continuity.  I jumped in as Spider-Man. I figured it would be easier to play a known character rather than create my own for a One-Off thing.  The game was a blast.  It ended up being the end of a season (arc) for the other players.   However, when they started the second season they invited me along.  I created a brand new hero named Daedalus and had a blast playing Worlds in Peril.  So as season 2 was winding down (a 5 issue(session) arc)  the GM said he was going to take a break and run or play something else.  I then talked the group into letting me run them through a season of Masks: A New Generation in the interim.  The idea being they would play as young X-Men in the same continuity as the Worlds in Peril game.

The Jean Grey School of Higher Learning

I had only played 6 sessions of a Powered by Apocalypse Game and had never run a session so the idea of running the game is a bit daunting.  But I watched and rewatched Adam Koebel (@Skinnyghost) run a One Shot that was such a blast it became a two-shot over at Roll Play as I tried my best to learn the rules and prepare. I find watching/listening to actual plays is a great way to get a better grasp of the rules I’ve read before I run a game.

I’ve always been a plot and characters over rules kind of GM so the narrative style I didn’t think was going to be too hard.  However, one thing I’ve seen in PBtA games is that a lot can happen in a few hours.  While some systems you expect the players to get through one maybe two encounters and maybe talk to a few NPC per session. Masks, I quickly learned required a whole different kind of prep.  Basically, I thought up who the villains are, what their plans were. I will have them just doing their thing until the heroes get involved.  Because in Masks, the Heroes have their own drama to deal with, and the story is really about them.

So now I had to figure out who the characters were and what kind of character arcs I would take them on. So I started with Session 0:  Character Creation.   We ended up with a Delinquent, a Nova, a Transformed, and a Doomed.  With a pretty interesting mix of ages and personalities. Continue reading “Prepping for a Season of Masks: A New Generation. As Marvel X – kids…”