Galactic Menu (edit)
Okay, so the group got together for our first 'real' session of Galactic, since our first session was pretty much nothing but the prep work outlined in section two (Captains, Crew, Factions, Galaxy, setting up the first planets, etc.)
We got sat back down, and thanks to Matt sending me "The Emergency Doyce Edit Update", we had some more prep-type work to do, which actually took us some time. I donít' want to steal Matt's thunder on these updates, but there's some stuff that we had to work on that requires I at least mention the changes, if not explain them.
Mission Goals Matt has already said: "A very likely change will be to set two goals for each adventure." Matt actually sent me the current version of the Adversity Dice table that goes along with this rule. I went back to each of the planets, wrote down the new adversity dice, and then went back to each player and asked them which of their three Goals they thought was pretty dump-able (everyone had rolled high enough to get three goals in the first run). This took awhile, with some folks.
Personality Traits Umm... basically Captains have five personality traits to list, instead of Vice and Virtue, and instead of giving you different dice to roll, playing to said traits in a scene nets you one Fortune, per session, per trait. It's very slick. It took, again, some time to get everyone set up with five good traits, but I was happy with what we ended up with. Good stuff, and added some nice depth for the captains.
Crew and their related stuff Crew get one personality trait and a "desire," instead of a secret. Folks had fun putting all these together, and one player in particular was amused to put the same desire on BOTH of the crew members she was playing, but having it mean two totally different things.
Crew "Appeal": I'm not going to explain this, but here's a note from game play for Matt:
In a campaign with a duration of ~5 sessions... even 9, with the number of tokens per player that you're talking about, it's mathematically improbable that any single crew member is going to get their dice size up to even a d8, let alone a d10 or higher -- there just aren't enough chips moving around for that. Also, I need to look at PTA and see if I can explain to folks when to use chips, based on those rules -- none of us have ever played it, so it was a little difficult to see when to award tokens. In play, no one did.
Matt Sez: Yeah, I forgot to tell you about how when you spend Hazard, it adds to that amount.
Ship Dice Umm... basically these are three descriptors for the captain's ship that can help out in situations where said descriptors are appropriate. This is a simple, quick addition to the rules that the players really liked. The feedback was that it provided a really nice bit of additional color and depth to the 'setting' that the crew and captain are interacting in. Very cool. Some folks set their ships up in about three minutes -- others took a bit longer.
You can see the resulting changes to the Captains, Crew, and starting planets on the main Denver Playtest page.
All in all, between a snafu where several folks had to run back home for their character sheets, I was fighting some kind of stomach affliction, and just doing these updates, about two hours had passed from our starting point before we could actually get playing.
The scenes themselves took a bit longer to play through, also, than Matt's estimate. I attribute this to
As a result, we ended up with just a few scenes with each captain.
Scene Zero: New Eden
Scene One: New Eden
The crew debarks, with Tovarra and Viktor both coming along with Boyd to meet with an old friend of Boyd's from the alma mater -- Hiram Blake, a local rep for the Colonial Merchants Guild -- to arrange procuring a Quantum Array at a good price. The customs agent (from the Concordance Navy) advises the crew on the vagaries of local dress (cover your head, Caliban traditionalist-style), customs, and health issues ('breath masks might be advisable if your stay is going to be long").
Scene Two: Chatura
Anse heads for one of the short-range shuttles with Sheila and a red shirt in tow.
Scene Three: Selawik
The traffic control fails to shut down his main mic pickup when he calls for intercept fighters to scramble, so the ship picks it up (also, the Captain's decommissioned military-class ship might still be able to monitor military frequencies...) -- there is a pause, then the controller says, "what do you mean, they're still refueling from patrol?"
Tillotson considers the situation: Local naval cruisers are too far away to deploy intercept craft in time, the platform itself is apparently shamefully undermanned, and really, someone has to do something.
"Number Juan," she says, relishing one of the few public jokes she allows herself, "let's go see if we can help the platform out... and transfer weapons control to me."
So up to this point it's just been general RP and setting scenes. Per normal, I have trouble figuring out how to get a good scene going with Boyd's player -- one of my recurring issues as a GM. :( Otherwise, pretty straightforward stuff.
From here, it's on to some conflicts!
Scene Four: New Eden
Boyd reminds Hiram why he's here, but Hiram regretfully informs him that with 'the current political climate', any 'key' ship parts can only be sold to naval personnel, or those working on Naval projects... but perhaps the Commander here can help us out on that front?
The commander is reluctant; he does need someone to try to determine the source of the current 'plague' (think a more lethal West Nile virus), explaining that some portions of the planet are already suffering a laundry list of health problems due to issues arising from brutal agricultural practices common on Caliban, but unnecessary on New Eden. He's unsure that Boyd and crew are up to the task, and double concerned that Boyd has no history of working with the Navy in any capacity.
Still, he does need someone to check things out...
The Conflict: If Boyd wins, the navy dispatches him to check out the plague sources on his own. If Boyd looses, the Commander sends along a babysitter.
Per Matt's suggestion, I didn't use any specific NP Cs; just using 3d6, plus the planet adversity dice (2d8 in this case, the worst adversity of the three planets), plus any other dice I wanted to 'buy' for the conflict, using Hazard. Margie (Boyd's player) was only going to be rolling her Professor Archetype, plus the crew wasn't helping on either side, and no gear or ship dice were being used, so that left me with 3d6+2d8 vs her 3d6 -- I didn't see any need to buy more dice for the conflict.
As it was, I got a total victory; all three of Boyd's dice were eliminated, I lost no dice. This netted Margie 3 fortune points (plus some more for using a few of her personality traits, and for working toward a Goal), but the Impairment roll took two of her Professor dice out of play. With Matt's new rules for Hazard, I got five Hazard added to my pool (one for each die I had left after the conflict), plus I got narration rights for Boyd's next scene.
Result: the contest felt kind of lopsided -- Margie didn't have any good way to pull out more dice, and the high adversity on the planet gave me some meaty dice to roll.
Matt Sez: What about Redshirts? What about bringing in a new archetype? What about re-rolls based on connection? Just didn't want to?
Doyce replies: Yeah... we kinda forgot about that. As it turned out, using a contact to try for a reroll would have been just about perfect in that situation. A redshirt would have been more difficult to work, as Boyd hadn't brought any along. Dunno if it would have been enough for her to win that conflict, but honestly just enough to prevent losing one of her dice so that she could concede without it being a total victory for me would have been a little better, and less impairment for her. Conceding wouldn't have been a real problem, becuase the way I set the stakes up, losing was interesting. :)
Scene Five: Chatura
Conflict: If Anse wins, he gets Tam back unharmed. If he loses, the Mob goons make off with his quartermaster.
He's rolling his Astronaut 4d6, plus a die for his ship's 'overgunned' attribute, plus a die from Tam's player (who's sitting in the back seat of the car Anse is chasing and basically helping with the intimidation of the Captain firing across the front of the bow), and I think the player called up a Gear dice, just to show that the shuttle was 'way more ship' than the air car.
I was rolling 1d4, 1d8, and 3d6. I didn't pay hazard for any more dice.
Result: total victory for Anse (we need to figure out how he's going to get even more than he wanted from this Conflict), feeling a bit lopsided the OTHER way. :) I got every single dice eliminated from the table due to some good rolls on Randy's part, and realized I should have spent a few hazard to even up my chances. It also helped out Randy to be able to use his ship a bit, and for Dave to help him out with a die.
Just before I cut scene, the local Concordance Navy law enforcement radios that they have a report of shots fired -- please stand to and prepare to be boarded.
Scene Six: Selawik
Conflict: Platform is protected from the attacker vs. umm... it isn't. :)
Captain Tillotson, manning the weapons, is rolling her 4d6 Warrior archetype. She's also using a few ship attributes for extra dice, PLUS both crew members (pilot and head engineer) are adding their dice on his side of the conflict, so he's got... 8d6 hitting the table.
I'm rolling 3d6, plus the 1d6 and 1d8 for planet adversity. This time, I drop 3 hazard to get another 1d8 to roll (using 3 of my meager 6 hazard that rolled for this world), in the hopes of saving a bit of face in this conflict.
Matt Sez: Don't track Hazard separately for each world. It's a common pool. Sorry that's not clearer.
Result: Things worked out pretty well for both sides, actually: First, there were a LOT of ties. I eliminated one of the player's dice (which did NOT end up getting impaired), giving him 1 fortune for that. He knocked out two of my dice...
... so at the end of the first 'turn' of conflict, he had 7d6 still on the table, and I had four dice left. I conceded the conflict, since it was fairly clear I was GOING to lose. This gave Tillotson a good solid 'win', and earned me 4 hazard for the 4 dice I still had left on the table, which meant a net gain of Hazard for me on the conflict. Sweet.
We paused here, tallying things up. Between all the players, all the conflicts, and points earned by everyone for both their Captain's scenes and their crew member participation in other scenes:
The conflict resolution is very interesting. It reminds me a bit of Heroquest (in 'trying to pull in all your relevant attributes'), and a quite reminiscent of Sorcerer (in the 'what's your high die?' then 'what's the next one?' -- for all that the resolution mechanic really isn't otherwise similar).
In general, Fortune tended to "earn" a lot more quickly and often than I'd expected, and keeping track of how much and 'to whom' slowed me down a bit -- I'm going to have to adopt (and I suggest using) an 'award yourself' method, in Shadow of Yesterday-like fashion, because the GM has enough going on.
Matt Sez: Yeah, no reason why the GM should assume responsibility for awarding it.
At that point, we opted to call it for the night and pick things up on Sunday, same time, to finish up the planets. Unfortunately, this didn't work out, due to the loss of a pet in the Boyd/Tillotson household, but everyone seemed eager to keep going, and I'm looking forward to our next session, where things should be much more intuitive.