Friday, 23 November 2012

Not yet sufficiently geeky, clearly

I've mentioned before that I really like Obsidian Portal, the roleplaying campaign management site. It's a place for real hoopy froods. If I wasn't cheap/broke I'd be a paying member and customising the hell out of my campaigns, even if I am the only one who normally looks at them. But I don't discuss it here much - my post about Alric Konrad was more about the model I'd made than what happened to him - because it's kind of bad form to contaminate the internet with spoilers for published roleplaying scenarios. Spoiling a book or movie is one thing, but the interactive nature of roleplaying games means that spoilers will actually alter the course of the plot, possibly even destroying it, so they're a much bigger deal. If it's a plot you made up yourself, it's not serious, since nobody else is likely to run the same one, unless reading your blurb inspires them to (which is a good thing!). But a professionally published scenario, used by thousands of different groups over probably many years, if not decades... Well, it'd be rude to indiscriminately plaster your experiences with it in random public places where others will be likely to run into it unexpectedly.

It should also go without saying that any player who goes out of their way to learn the contents of a published scenario that their GM is currently running for them is a diseased cock (Nexus, J. 2003. pg.20-21).

So that's why I haven't said much about my group's playing of the Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. But I have now started up a second campaign that I do feel more comfortable discussing in public, created for the USS Dauntless group I wrote about in yet another previous post. Unsurprisingly, this is a Star Trek roleplaying campaign, using Decipher's CODA system. Perhaps slightly more surprising is that this is a Maquis-centered game, with the players representing one small cell of Maquis at the start of their insurgency against Cardassian rule.

This is probably a pretty smart way to run a Trek campaign, as it forces the players to deal with every challenge themselves, with only relatively crappy equipment at their disposal; I've been a player and GM in several Trek (and other starship-based) games before, and there's always a temptation for the players to delegate dangerous tasks to Redshirts, which can cheapen the whole experience. Why bother to be heroic, after all, when there's always another Crewman Anonymous or Ensign Wontbemissed to do it for you? But in a Maquis game (and similar underdog formats), the player characters either take the risks themselves, or nothing gets done. It's more dramatic that way, usually. Similarly, you never want them to have an EMH. Voyager's Doctor was a great character, but few roleplayers are going to be able to duplicate that sort of performance, and it does make it unnecessary for any player character to have more than field medic training, removing one more angle of plot tension.

But the point is, this new thing is a plot "entirely" of my own devising. Inevitably with any fanon (which I guess this technically is), I will be borrowing elements from established TV series canon. But not too much. I'm probably taking more from other campaigns than from the actual TV series, with the party starting out stealing the decommissioned USS Rutan NCC-20046, the little science ship that was the focus of the first long-term campaign I successfully GMed (part of the old records of that campaign can be found here). I'm quite fond of that ship and always regretted titling its campaign "Last Voyage of the Rutan." That title is still technically valid, since the vessel currently has no official or unofficial name and the players are free to re-name it themselves.

I also intend to steal borrow Jason Green's creation, the USS Zephyr. The Zephyr played a small but dramatic role in Jason's old USS Saracen campaign, which stuck with me vividly for the last 12 years (holy fuck, we're getting old). Since those events occurred in roughly the same region and period as my new Maquis campaign, I felt it would be appropriate to give the Zephyr a belated, plagiarised encore.

Oh, one other thought: I always think miniatures are a nice-but-not-essential addition to many roleplaying games, but Star Trek ships are tricky to miniaturise, until (drum roll) I got me some Trek Clix. They're decent enough models, and we've got an Oberth-class (the Pegasus) so our bare minimum requirement is met. I've somehow safely retained the origami Rutan I made for that game back in 2005, but the new plastic one is just much more practical.

So there you have it. I'll feel free to post stuff about this new campaign (titled "Edge of Nirvana" for reasons that I hope are obvious) whenever I feel like it. Anyone who wants to track it more closely, take a look at the ST:EoN site on Obsidian Portal, as I (and perhaps one or more players) should be updating it weekly for the next couple months.

But I strongly, strongly discourage almost all of you: Don't veer off into my Enemy Within campaign. It really is only for those already in that game, and to help those intending to GM it themselves. There's little reason for anyone else to spoil it for themselves. But, now you've been warned, do whatever the hell you like. I'm not your mummy, gas-mask face.