I need to pick smarter brains than mine for a minute.

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
Redroverone Redroverone's picture
I need to pick smarter brains than mine for a minute.

Ok, so I'm working on a custom campaign for new players, and I'm a new GM.

I modified Zergbait's awesome idea here a bit and came up with the idea that my players were part of a mission to begin the colonization of Mars in the early-mid 21st century and got knocked into a deep cometary orbit by something. I'm handwaving through the 120 or so years in orbit by telling them that most of the crew is now dead when the others wake up, and the AI that was keeping their hibernation systems intact and running is now conveniently the guy who wants to play an AGI with edited memories. Anyways.

My problem is twofold: First, I have to get them basically 'rescued' by a passing craft headed in the direction of Mars. The only solid idea I've come up with is that a passing iceteroid crew of delta forks sees an opportunity to maybe score some artifacts from a derelict ship and get more than they bargained for when they find survivors. It sounds okay, and I can probably make that work, but it feels shaky. My biggest problem, though, is figuring out a way to put a Firewall agent on the iceteroid. If they accept his offer, then I can exchange out their quickie pre-Fall sheets for their characters on the idea that they become his sentinels, and he gets them the gear they ordinarily would start with on their characters. But I'm stuck for how to actually get him ON the ship.

So, yeah, if anyone could gin up a plausible scenario, I'm all ears, because I'm stuck.

Thanks in advance.

The dog ate my signature

Forseti Forseti's picture
Well, it needn't be iceteroid

Well, it needn't be iceteroid crew. The orbit of derelict ship could be skewed so that it passes near Jupiter. Jovian ship looking for ships trying to use Jupiter's assist without paying the fee senses it and comes to check. They fear it could be some TITANs artifact so they summon a specialist (by egocast) and it happens that he is Firewall agent.

puke puke's picture
Self rescue?

Why have them off course at all? Maybe they were on a long period cometary orbit because they were intercepting a long period comet.

They could have intercepted it pre-fall, but something went wrong with one of the awake-shifts... Or nothing went wrong and they all went into cryosleep until the scheduled return to the inner solar system, and upon waking they find out things went wrong while they were out.

It could be their original job to get it back to mars, and they have the equipment to rig an engine on it and move it in that direction.

Can the firewall agent egocast to them? If there is no resleeving capabilities on the ship, maybe the firewall agent is an AGI or uploads as an infomorph. Higher tech software, maybe he can hold a virtual gun to the PC AGI's head, or maybe he is responsible for editing the memories.

If egocast isnt an option, maybe a newer more modern ship has taken an interest into their ice ball and intercepts it just before / just after the crew wakes up, and that brings in firewall or some other adventure hook.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
Forseti wrote:Well, it needn

Forseti wrote:
Well, it needn't be iceteroid crew. The orbit of derelict ship could be skewed so that it passes near Jupiter. Jovian ship looking for ships trying to use Jupiter's assist without paying the fee senses it and comes to check. They fear it could be some TITANs artifact so they summon a specialist (by egocast) and it happens that he is Firewall agent.

Jovians wouldn't touch an egocast with a 10 foot poll

the big problem here is the time frame. iirc current projections put modern rocketry tech for getting living people to mars is about a decade. for them to overshoot marz by a matter of 10 fold is astounding

so how do we make the astounding happen without ramping up the BS? plenty of events out there to mess with nav and propulsion like meteorites and class X or greater flares.

I don't know why but i kinda want to put a new twist on the exsurgant virus. The exsurgant virus is incomplete. the bracewell probe it was part of was damaged and split resulting the virus becoming corrupt. The entire titan infection and departure was the virus trying to reconstitute itself and carry out its core function: provide greeting and introduction to sapient species. The other half of the virus is and probe is wedged in your player's ark ship and enough damage was caused for it to be running dark and off course for better part of a century. Should this half of the virus come into contact with its other half its programming will be restored into a nonviolent and destructive greeting protocol.

Forseti Forseti's picture
My take on Jovians'

My take on Jovians' bioconservatism is that it is for civilians/general population. Elites and (most importantly) military has access to some of technoprogressive achievements, just in secrecy so that it is kept away from God-fearing citizens. Actually, it has a reason especially for the Jovian military - they can't let their opponents to advance technologically too much, they must be able to stand a chance in combat. Otherwise Jovian Republic is going to be Planetary Consortium's pawn in a matter of few years and one decisive battle.

So IMO, egocasting is entirely possible in Jovian navy, just restricted and kept as military secret.

Redroverone Redroverone's picture
My reasoning with iceteroid crew had a couple of reasons

The main one being that the new characters (being in the ancient past) wouldn't have the skills or the weapons to deal with anything tougher than delta forks, because of skill caps. Basically, I wanted their first adventure to be in 'easy' mode, so I needed to pick something with a small crew and not armed to the teeth and ready for exsurgents, so I decided space-Nostromo was the best idea I had.

I do like and completely overlooked the idea of the Firewall agent being an infolife, and that can work really well.

I also do find intriguing for future stuff the idea of the incomplete exsurgent virus, but I decided for horror factor I'm going to have the PC AGI basically having done SOMETHING during the voyage that turned him from an AI to an AGI, figured out a way to keep the cold storage working that long for the players, and then locked his own memories in the banks, giving his imagination all kinds of ideas of exactly what he did he had to erase.....

The dog ate my signature

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Oh! I has Brain! Not smart, but very Juicy! You want?

Firewall agents needn't be "on" all the time - maybe his spouse/sibling lives on the intercepting vessel, whatever it's nature.

I'm a little vague on what you want the scenario to do though.
If you want the impetus of action to be conflict with a "salvage" crew, then you'll need to establish a more concrete motivation behind that conflict, otherwise you run headfirst into the "why are we even fighting" question.
If you want it to all be a comical misunderstanding which gets sorted when the crews begin talking to each other, or want to highlight "social combat", then fair enough. The alternative is just making the salvage crew hostile, but you need to be sure that "Transhumans Be Fucktards" is the impression you want the players to carry into your game first.

If you'd rather play up the dangers of space travel, and the whole "alone in the howling darkness" trope, then a survival-esque scenario may be more appropriate, with your PCs working with the Salvage crew to repair the engines and navigation systems to the point where a course correction towards mars (instead of sailing off into the deep) is possible, complicated by the fact that the ship is broken. No combat, but lots of skill rolls and environmental challenges.

If combat is desirable, then I'd recommend going for the repair scenario, with a twist emerging - reactivating the navigations system reveals that the ship already underwent a course-correction,of which the crew has no knowledge, although the logs say that they ordered it.
Then you get to introduce your players to "mind-fuckery", as they get memory flashes of horrible things happening to them - exhumans boarded the ship in the Oort, and are riding it insystem: they forced the crew to authorise the course change, then removed the memories (badly).

Follow with a running battle against exhuman monstrosities, in a desperate attempt to rig the drives and escape in the Launch. No worries about "easy mode" combat, because you can configure your exhuman to fit: either a single "heavy" which their weapons can repel but not actually injure (because they're not supposed to kill it, except maybe through environmental means), or "soft" Swarmers, which can be killed easily with outdated weapons, but are present in extremely large numbers.
In either case, the lack of effective weaponry becomes a helpful element for the encounter, rather than something you need to compensate for.

Finally, whilst the AI having done something "HAL-ish" is a nice touch, it's not really a horror element, unless you make him the scenario/campaign villain. Effective horror elements need to provide some form of clear and present danger to be effective, otherwise they are at best tragic or depressing, at worst they become darkly humorous.

"I condemned my crew to a dreamless sleep that will only end when the stars are cold and dead, and all I got was this lousy Conscience."

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Redroverone Redroverone's picture
Ok, my motivations

I have one player who is deeply committed to playing in this setting, and has 'read ahead'.

The others, not so much.

I decided this would be a good way for them to ease into the setting, by allowing them to ask questions starting from a semi-familiar environment and letting in the element of 'this is what I signed up for?' The player who has 'read ahead' is playing the AGI because he describes it as coming from a different place than most of the other systems - and he took Edited Memories. This seemed a tailor made way to introduce them, as well as giving him something to chew on.

Combat isn't necessarily where I'm going with this, although I plan to give them an incentive to either get off the iceteroid or combat by having the AGI overhear a conversation between the crew about them being screwed as soon as they get to Mars (because delta forks) and how they've had some Flats and some pre-Fall tech drop into their laps. I also plan to have at least one member of the crew be REALLY evil and point out they also have egos with no mesh ID's available to make money with (as long as they can get them bridged) and forked endlessly with no one knowing or caring.

I DO have to admit, I like the exhumans riding in scenario. My only problem is still the big one - how do I get a Firewall agent on there?

Oh, and that quote - that's tremendous. :D

The dog ate my signature

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Pedant warning:

Pedant warning:

My biggest issue with this setup is the delta-v. To take a ship built to go from Earth to Mars and launch it out past Saturn takes a crazy amount of go-juice that that ship has no reason to be carrying. Then to slow it back down to orbital velocity would take a huge amount of juice again.

However, that doesn't mean your ship shouldn't be lost in space. Remember, space is *very very* big. If your ship was aiming for Mars and missed, it won't be able to close its orbit. This is a colonization effort? It probably doesn't have the fuel for a return trip to Earth either. This means your ship is stranded. Yes, it's in the "neighborhood" of Earth. But for all the fuel required to reach it and bring it back, it may as well be on the wrong side of a Pandora Gate. If this is a corporation, or a small ship part of a larger effort, it's liable to be called a loss. So they'd better cross their fingers and hope technology catches up before their hibernation pods run out.

While AF 10 does have the technology to make better ships, they're still short on some critical resources; platinum, gold, lithium, etc. Just like old pennies are worth more than our new ones, those old ships are liable to be (literally) a gold mine, and any scavs would be happy to scoop it if its route happens to be serendipitous.

But then the question I would have is the same one asked before; what sort of an opening are you going for exactly? Existential horrors of being lost in space? Aliens eating brains? Tousling with pirates?

Redroverone Redroverone's picture
More like

'I wish you guys would have read A Time Of Eclipse like I said would be a good idea. Then you wouldn't be stuck here asking stupid questions.' :D

But in all seriousness, the tone of the game isn't going to be fluffy and light, and I wanted a dual reason to be able to put the history into in-game context AND to emphasize that if they're not paying attention, they can be boned quite easily.

The dog ate my signature

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
you know there is a point.

you know there is a point. these hapless pc's have no valid identity markers. they are for all purposes legally dead. Nine Lives i think would find this most interesting....

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
I'm quite proud of that quote :D

nezumi.hebereke wrote:
My biggest issue with this setup is the delta-v. To take a ship built to go from Earth to Mars and launch it out past Saturn takes a crazy amount of go-juice that that ship has no reason to be carrying. Then to slow it back down to orbital velocity would take a huge amount of juice again.

It's moderately easy to handwave this, depending on whether Mars was the end destination or a waypoint, and on the ease of refuelling at the time of flight.
On the other hand, it's been given that something went wrong on the flight. This can be leveraged into plot points: Say, for example, that the ship was a corporate-colony-carrier, with a cargo hold full of gear and 100,000 colonists on ice.
However, the ship AI (Inbuilt Loyalty to Company, Crew, Cargo in that order) has been hacked by a competitor - during the voyage, it triggers an explosion destroying the equipment, throwing it off course.
Suffering a derangement from having performed an act contrary to it's loyalties, it desperately seeks a way to save those aboard and/or reaffirm it's allegiance - and it finds one:
It would have enough delta-V to enter a Mars-intercept (or near enough) course... if it dumped the colonists.
And so it does.
Finally, it realizes that there must be a fault with it's programming which allowed it to violate Loyalty, and so the only rational course is to alter itself, self-reprogramming to allow the evaluation of actions and intent, and removing errant directives.
Emergence.

Redroverone wrote:
Combat isn't necessarily where I'm going with this, although I plan to give them an incentive to either get off the iceteroid or combat by having the AGI overhear a conversation between the crew about them being screwed as soon as they get to Mars (because delta forks) and how they've had some Flats and some pre-Fall tech drop into their laps. I also plan to have at least one member of the crew be REALLY evil and point out they also have egos with no mesh ID's available to make money with (as long as they can get them bridged) and forked endlessly with no one knowing or caring.

I DO have to admit, I like the exhumans riding in scenario. My only problem is still the big one - how do I get a Firewall agent on there?

I'll admit, I picture Deltas as being a tad more “Are you familiar with the applications of Tungsten?”, but again that could be used as a plot spur. Perhaps the Iceteroid crew had been trading with Exhumans on the side, and the Agent had been called in to investigate. They hadn't found anything suspicious as yet, but the mental pruning of the Deltas has allowed concealed neurological modifications to emerge, which will result in them becoming violently insane.
Again, the crew needn't be aware that they've been modified, and I'd be really tempted to say they don't even know they've been in contact with Exhumans; the exhumans captured them, took what they wanted, and released them back with mental blocks and conditioning to make them return with more cargo in the future.

If you want to include an actual Exhuman, in this scenario, you have multiple options.
Especially if you want body horror.
You're already mentioned the Nostromo, so how about chestbursters? You could easilly say the Deltas' morphs have horrible “things” implanted, which tear their way out if the neurological conditioning of the host falters, or they're detected. These can be simple Swarmers as mentioned earlier, or you could turn them into a Heavy if they contain a common ego through the use of the Smartswarm morph or using Flexbot rules – essentially Creepies with modular construction and Teeth.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Redroverone Redroverone's picture
I guess I didn't explain as well as I should have.

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
nezumi.hebereke wrote:
My biggest issue with this setup is the delta-v. To take a ship built to go from Earth to Mars and launch it out past Saturn takes a crazy amount of go-juice that that ship has no reason to be carrying. Then to slow it back down to orbital velocity would take a huge amount of juice again.

It's moderately easy to handwave this, depending on whether Mars was the end destination or a waypoint, and on the ease of refuelling at the time of flight.
On the other hand, it's been given that something went wrong on the flight. This can be leveraged into plot points: (...)
Finally, it realizes that there must be a fault with it's programming which allowed it to violate Loyalty, and so the only rational course is to alter itself, self-reprogramming to allow the evaluation of actions and intent, and removing errant directives.
Emergence.

My starting point was the thread linked in my OP. I changed it a bit by making the year 2035, and the group being part of a crew on the Armstrong III mission, which was going to be the first serious manned steps towards a Mars colony. Along the way, they hit...something, which knocks them off course. My internal monologue is that the AI in question realizes that everyone's in deep sleep and relatively safe as long as it can keep the power on, and makes an adjustment the best it can to sling them around a planet and back towards Earth....but it's not a great pilot. I'm going to tell the AGI player that he sets his internals to go to sleep and wake up regularly just to make sure the cryo pods are OK.

Of course, the true introduction will be the AGI waking up to a signal....and realizing two things:

1) The rest of the crew is dead.
2) A LOT of the logs just...stop. A lot of the data in the system is (CLASSIFIED), (REDACTED), or locked....and the AI locked it against itself. And then the AI will realize that it's actually thinking about these things with a semblance of emotion that it did not have. What happened? I have a couple of ideas, but nothing the player needs to know about. Heh. I still want the team to end up on Mars, since the first real adventure of the campaign starts near the L4 point. An iceteroid crew terraforming just fit the plotline when I made it.

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
I'll admit, I picture Deltas as being a tad more “Are you familiar with the applications of Tungsten?”, but again that could be used as a plot spur. Perhaps the Iceteroid crew had been trading with Exhumans on the side, and the Agent had been called in to investigate. They hadn't found anything suspicious as yet, but the mental pruning of the Deltas has allowed concealed neurological modifications to emerge, which will result in them becoming violently insane.
Again, the crew needn't be aware that they've been modified, and I'd be really tempted to say they don't even know they've been in contact with Exhumans; the exhumans captured them, took what they wanted, and released them back with mental blocks and conditioning to make them return with more cargo in the future.

If you want to include an actual Exhuman, in this scenario, you have multiple options.
Especially if you want body horror.
You're already mentioned the Nostromo, so how about chestbursters? You could easilly say the Deltas' morphs have horrible “things” implanted, which tear their way out if the neurological conditioning of the host falters, or they're detected. These can be simple Swarmers as mentioned earlier, or you could turn them into a Heavy if they contain a common ego through the use of the Smartswarm morph or using Flexbot rules – essentially Creepies with modular construction and Teeth.

I chose Deltas solely going off the combination of the descriptions and proscriptions in the core book and the stated skill level examples. I didn't think a skill level higher than 40 would be needed or desired in what's basically a skeleton crew that's only there in case of extreme emergency. Betas would work as well, and since I want the characters to end up on Mars, that gives me a plot driver for why the forks would want to do something nice and criminal - Martian society considers them to be property, and they want either the cash to disappear into the outer planets or the cash to fight legally for their freedom, if they get lucky. I DO admit the Exhuman hook is attractive and gives me a plausible reason for the Firewall agent to be on the ship. Maybe I could make him the AGI 'pilot' of the iceteroid, that would work.

The dog ate my signature

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
the problem i see is that a

the problem i see is that a firewall agent would never leave in the firewall memories in the delta. deltas are too easy to crack

Redroverone Redroverone's picture
No reason he had to be a delta as an infolife, I'm thinking

But point taken. Thinking maybe I just roll with straight characters, since the profit motive would still apply.

The dog ate my signature