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In the OTU In the Official Traveller Universe. Any milieux that's been published in any edition. Not for discussion of rules except in reference to how they reflect the OTU

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  #11  
Old August 16th, 2018, 12:25 PM
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Players will probably not know Traveller well. Maybe only by reputation. So I expect to show them a few Tropes of Traveller.

Death during chargen.
Visiting a starport.
Gambling in the TAS hostel bar.
Jump travel; High and Low Passage.
EVA in a vacc suit.
Piloting a ship.
Wilderness refueling.
Doing space combat.
Shotguns and cutlasses alongside monomolecular axes and Laser Rifles, together in combat.
Fighting alien creatures.
Solving a cosmic enigma.

Some of these. Probably can't squeeze in all of 'em. And the list is longer than that.

Four hours is time enough for a romp without extensive planning.

Hr 1 - chargen
Hr 2 - travelling
Hr 3 - setback
Hr 4 - climax
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Last edited by robject; August 16th, 2018 at 01:24 PM..
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  #12  
Old August 20th, 2018, 12:58 PM
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- The ruins are on the far side of the planet from the spaceport (different continent?).
- The vanished civilization is from before the Long Night.
- The PCs get to gawk at a Pyramids complex, explore a Temple of Karnak.
- The recently-discovered rotting remains of a long-abandoned starship nearby drew the first official interest in this site.
- The PCs find some quality artwork in an obvious tomb.
- A studio is nearby; it contains partially-completed works in the same style.
- Local creatures have moved into part of the ruins but never figured out how to open the locked doors where 'the good stuff' is to be found.
- If the PCs talked about their mission before leaving, a rival group wants to snatch the valuable artwork. They are get-rich-quick-without-working, not a professional collector or knowledgeable artisans / professors.
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Old August 23rd, 2018, 11:22 AM
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Just my 2 credits, from my own experience in running games at conventions:

* Keep it (very) simple. Four hours is not a long time. These players don't know you and don't know how you run games. You want themes and goals to be very obvious, because anything less obvious will be a complete mystery to your players.

* I avoid chargen at the table. In my experience, it's a timesink and it tends to dampen the mood. I would suggest you creating about three or four times as many pre-gen characters as you expect to have players (so if you plan to run 4 people through the game, have 16 characters available). Have each character have a name and preferably art for the character (eg; a character portrait). Write a character brief - a short paragraph, ideally a single sentence that sums the character up (it's possible, they do it for character briefs when pitching TV shows or games all the time); this gives the player broad strokes to get a handle on the character, let the character fill in any blanks with RP. Pregens allow you to save time, get the ball rolling ASAP, and allow you to craft characters who will be relevant in your game (make sure all the pregens are relevant). (Also, I personally feel including 'death in chargen' as a quirk of Traveller is going to have the opposite effect of selling the game to your players.)

* Absolutely have a reason why the players should be working together. Four hours isn't long enough (IMO) to have some clever guy trying to play traitor or anything subtle like that. The players could all be prisoners of pirates looking to get away, a team of archeologists, a military unit, anything so they don't waste time sizing each other up and negotiating and so on (and so you don't have to risk that contrarian clown pulling the metagame where they intentionally try and have a player get kicked from the group just to see what the player does or to see how you as the GM handle the situation).

* I like the idea of the players being pursued. Players tend to dwadle a lot in RPGs if left to their own devices. While this might be okay for some groups, I think it's bad for a con game which will be one session and likely of medium length. So it's ideal to have some thematic element that reinforces to players they're on the clock and they have to keep moving.

* I'm iffy on the idea of the 'ruins of a long-dead empire' for a con game. I feel that a GM shouldn't use an unusual or exotic location unless that location is going to be used for something that cannot be found in a more mundane setting. What would a long-dead ruins offer that some more mundane setting wouldn't? For me "ruins of a long-dead empire" suggests mystery and exploration, two themes that don't work so well when the players are being pursued.

Also, alien ruins can be hard to describe in a way that makes a vivid image pop in your player's minds. Compare:

"You see tall towers of irregularly shaped pinkish stone that tower hundreds of meters into the air, their purpose unknown. There's at least a dozen in a cluster, they curve oddly from their foundations, the effect like fan coral on earth. As you reach the top of the low rise you're hiking up, you notice scattered at the base of these are hundreds of pear-shaped buildings, each about four storeys tall, connected by a webwork of catwalks that look from a distance like cobwebs compared to the size of the buildings. The entire area gives the impression of forlorn abandonment, the round windows in the pear-shaped buildings remind you of skulls - perhaps not human skulls but skulls nevertheless. Unlike the towers, the pear-shaped buildings look like they were made from some sort of brick-red material, like terra-cotta flowerpots, though some seem to shimmer and sparkle faintly in the weak daylight, though you're not sure if that's some ancient power system still working or just some sort of reflection of the light from the material the buildings are made from. The pinkish towers feel somehow lonely and desperate, rising from the reddish sand of the world, like skeletal fingers of a doomed spacefarer reaching up from his dusty grave towards the purplish sky and the twin ghostly spheres of the moons above, beyond, to the freedom of outer space."

vs.

You come upon an abandoned megacorporate mining settlement. These are very common in the hypercapitalist Third Imperium, set up to mine some material or another, then abandoned just as fast when the lode played out. They've been left abandoned since it's cheaper just to set up a new one at the new site than to pick up the current one. There's these multi-purpose tubular prefabs all rigged up so it looks like those hamster tubes except made of rusting metal, broken up by these repurposed shipping containers piled atop each other and used as housing or maybe storage - it's hard to tell and it's all rusting away. There's also the occasional geodesic green house domes, covered with the same fine reddish dust of the moon, though most of the domes are dark and some have their transparent roofs collapsed."

While both will evoke images, I think the latter is a lot more accessible than the former. The former I think will make the players want to explore and investigate, the latter will have the players more likely to look for shelter, transportation, weapons, and possibly an ambush against their pursuers.
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  #14  
Old August 24th, 2018, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicenter00 View Post
Just my 2 credits, from my own experience in running games at conventions:

* Keep it (very) simple. Four hours is not a long time. These players don't know you and don't know how you run games. You want themes and goals to be very obvious, because anything less obvious will be a complete mystery to your players.
Yep.

Quote:
* [chargen] is a timesink and it tends to dampen the mood.
I found the opposite to be true, probably because people are drawn to Traveller for a range of quasi-nostalgic reasons.

But, and I have to say this, the chargen I use is fast fast fast, I allot a full hour (!!) for it, and I use the process as both an introduction to Traveller and its rules, and a tool to weave the players into a team.

We have no traitors in the group, as you mention.

Quote:
The players could all be prisoners of pirates looking to get away,
a team of archeologists,
a military unit
no clowns
All good suggestions. I've used all three in the past, and they're all fun. By the way, to date no-one has even hinted at being a clown... in the 'con games. I am not sure why. We will see what this 'con brings.

Quote:
* have some thematic element that reinforces to players they're on the clock and they have to keep moving.
Good advice, thank you.

Quote:
* For me "ruins of a long-dead empire" suggests mystery and exploration, two themes that don't work so well when the players are being pursued.
In other words, "why?" That's a good question. I'm trying to figure that out as well. It might just end up smelling like the actiony bits of an Indiana Jones movie.

Quote:
[Alien ruins versus abandoned megacorporate office]
Point taken: Gamma World used things we understand innately to support a bizarre-o world. I have used megacorp installations before, to great effect. So did _Serenity_. I'll think about that.

By the way, I will still borrow/steal both of your descriptive texts.
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Old August 24th, 2018, 02:49 PM
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Annoying little point: "The Lost Empire" is evocative and attractive marketing, so I tend to want to hang the adventure on the concept of a lost civilization.

Note I didn't say "ruins" in the title.

And I didn't actually say "extinct" in the title either. It's just lost. Discuss.
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Old August 24th, 2018, 03:07 PM
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The title and byline are... flexible:

Traveller: Lost Empire
When Dr. Faraji has a job, you know it'll be worth it, but you never know where it will take you.


Let me suggest my plot, then maybe I'll waffle a dozen more times.

The players are the remains of an exploration team. They have been shot down by forces unknown and must get home with the Little Black Box survey recorder.

So tasks:

(1) repair
(2) jump
(3) avoid or defeat bad guys


I dunno. Doesn't seem to live up to the title.
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Old August 24th, 2018, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robject View Post
Doesn't seem to live up to the title.

That's because the adventure's mcguffin isn't directly related to the "Lost Empire". It's related at one remove instead, meaning a more accurate adventure title would be:

Traveller: Saving The Potential Survey Data About The Lost Empire

If you want to evoke a "lost empire" feel, that empire needs to be represented by more than just sensor scans. Putting it another way, the "lost empire" needs to be both the mcguffin and the danger. My 0.02 CrImp suggestion would be:
  • - Two parties. One of PCs and one of NPCs
  • - Both parties after same mcguffin. Competition spurs PCs to act.
  • - Both parties engage in low key harassment of the other.
  • - "Lost Empire" survivors, guards, mechanisms, whatever activate.
  • - Both parties' personal and equipment damaged/destroyed by the same.
  • - Remnants of both parties must work together to survive/escape with mcguffin

Cheesy? Yes. Formulaic? Certainly. Immediately recognizable to the participants of a convention game? That's the point.

The devil will be in the details and the details are up to you.

Finally, a word about chargen. Whether chargen should be part of the convention game depends on how you're pitching the game. If it's piched as Traveller: The Nostalgia Era, include chargen. If it's pitched as "Want to try Traveller? keep chargen out.

For the latter, get them playing as soon as practicable. Use pregens while allowing quick customization like cascade skill choices or "points" to buff stats and skills. Talk about the other careers, adventure genres, and whatnot while running the session. Answer questions about the game in general. If possible have hard copies they can thumb through. Keep the session at hand moving and focused however. Answer questions about psionics, for example, while also reminding them that this session won't be using them. Don't let them get bored.

Using a simplified version of CT, I've been running stripped down versions of [i]Shadows[i], Chamax Plague, and both ATV Doubles more or less monthly for almost 10 years now at a FLGS. A few MgT groups and campaigns run by other people have been the result and there would have been many more groups if I'd had the time to referee.
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  #18  
Old August 25th, 2018, 08:24 PM
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Thanks Whip. On target as usual.

The details are already writing themselves in my head. Thank you for the kick-start.

We're definitely in the "Want to try Traveller?" category, so yes to:

* pregens with customization (balance) options
* field all questions but keep the focus on the action now
* hard copies for the curious
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Last edited by robject; August 25th, 2018 at 08:42 PM..
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