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Referee's Lounge Discussion of how to (and not to) Referee Traveller and Cepheus Engine games. No edition warring allowed.

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  #31  
Old July 22nd, 2017, 06:50 PM
Keklas Rekobah Keklas Rekobah is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lycanorukke View Post
I would say that there is a range from the hard railroad and the infinite sandbox.

Hard Rails:
Linear, rigid and inflexible but simple to create . . .
Rarely ever used IMTU, unless there was a patron that they just HAD to meet in order to continue the scenario. Some standards, however, were of this sort: Nothing supernatural - no ghosts, zombies, vampires, demons, angels, et cetera. Of course, there were holograms, robots, leeches, sociopaths, "Florence Nightingales", and a host of other reality-based creatures to encounter.
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Originally Posted by Lycanorukke View Post
Concealed Rails:
In this case the GM makes an effort to 'hide' the rails. The plot is still very linear but instead of driving the PC's down a linear corridor they are driven through a series of rooms
It depends. Certainly, there are situations that require undeviating passage from the bridge, to the corridor, to the ladderwell, to another corridor, and then to the engine room. But when exploring a seemingly abandoned settlement to find clues as to the disappearance of its inhabitants, the "decision tree" has many more branches - buildings to explore, journals to read, bloodstains to analyze, et cetera.
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Originally Posted by Lycanorukke View Post
Checkpoints/Nodes:
. . . To advance the plot the PC's need to go through 'Nodes' but how they get to the nodes is entirely up to them.
This is how I usually ran things. In a mystery setting, all of the clues were presented, and it was up to the players to piece them together. In an adventure setting, the players could fight, flee, hide, negotiate, or surrender - each choice led to other opportunities, and it sometimes happened that I would have to call a quick time-out to make adjustments after the players had "fallen off the map".
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Originally Posted by Lycanorukke View Post
Open World:
No limits for the PC's and a prematurely grey GM. Depending on how long their 'legs' are the PC's could go anywhere . . .
This is the impression that I kept trying to inspire. "Sure, you can go anywhere you want; but you'll need a ship of your own, and to get that, you need at least the down-payment. How many credits can you scrape up? Aw, too bad . . . well, maybe the local equivalent of 'Want Ads' might interest you at this time."
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Originally Posted by Lycanorukke View Post
Of course bit can be mixed and matched - a sub plot may be 'concealed rails' placed inside a 'Node based game', and where the line is drawn between each 'stage' is very grey. But the extremes I would call no-go areas - Hard Rails annoy the PC's while Open world annoys the GM.
And that's the crux of the matter. Game balance involves more than just making sure that the players don't ignore the encumbrance rules and that they don't acquire infinite credit. It also involves a nudging the players through your pre-determined adventure while simultaneously giving them the illusion of free will.
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Last edited by Keklas Rekobah; July 22nd, 2017 at 06:52 PM.. Reason: To correct spelling errors.
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  #32  
Old July 22nd, 2017, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Keklas Rekobah View Post
It also involves a nudging the players through your pre-determined adventure while simultaneously giving them the illusion of free will.
Unless one does not have a pre-determined adventure.
I don't use pre-determined adventures.

This is a preference on my part. But I really do prefer it!
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  #33  
Old July 22nd, 2017, 11:51 PM
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skill redundancy
ah. so multiple skill-sets, enabling characters to fully interface with most aspects of most situations.

could you post such a character as an example?

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I carried much of my own Naval experience over into refereeing Traveller.
what was your naval experience?
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  #34  
Old July 27th, 2017, 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by kilemall View Post
One can wing it, which has its own charms not the least of which is determining by play action what the player entertainment biome is, quite independent of the referee's prior conceptions.
I'm a wing-it person. I find out from players what kind of situation they would like to role-play in with a character that they already have in mind. I figure a way to put the situations together into a setting, and have my computer generate those characters for them. And we do a one-shot of it.

It's all character-driven. So there isn't much prep I have to do. And there is no pre-made adventure we follow.
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  #35  
Old July 27th, 2017, 07:34 AM
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The mark of a good Referee in Traveller is the ability to keep your players from being able to discern an adventure you have developed from the freedom from going sandbox. If you can wing-it, run the numbers behind the screen without giving away that you are winging it, your players will believe that you meant for their choices to take them down the path.

This is about flexibility. Free will of the characters to suddenly dump a mission, quest or other task is something your players will value in your role as a Referee. Delegate the Ship Operations to the players and watch as they become more committed to the task. Who wants the Captain to suddenly go off the rails after they've loaded the cargo hold with 80 tons of fertilizer for that needy Ag world?

So, the ship discovers a rogue comet. Mark it on the astrogation charts for exploration later. A sandbox can take any shape around an agreed-upon mission. Hold your players to the causality of their decisions to stay on-mission or to dump the Patron's contract.

Being flexible enough as the Referee to hide your frustration that an adventure, published or your development, is suddenly abandoned. Mark the causality of their choices in the backstage, backdrop, behind the screen and move on.

Example: I once laid a Zhodani Villain at the footstep of the players, one who was trying to change the Government of Zamine (Spinward Marches 0421) from Balkanized to Religious Dictator through the 'miracles' propagated through the use of psionics. The players didn't bite, despite the fact that the Bad Guy was only two Jump-3, six parsecs away and calling the shots on Zamine. The characters decided that they had had enough of curbing change on a Darrian Confederation world. I shrugged and let them move on to something else more to their liking, without letting them know my original intentions. 30 Darrian Aslan later, inserted onto Cunnonic (Spinward Marches 0822) and the players were none the wiser and fully happy to meet and chat with Darrian cultured Aslan warriors.

Stay sharp, be flexible, have a plan but ready for the other fork in the path of your players. Never let them see you sweat. Hope this helps.

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  #36  
Old July 27th, 2017, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Pakkrat View Post
This is about flexibility. Free will of the characters to suddenly dump a mission, quest or other task is something your players will value in your role as a Referee. Delegate the Ship Operations to the players and watch as they become more committed to the task. Who wants the Captain to suddenly go off the rails after they've loaded the cargo hold with 80 tons of fertilizer for that needy Ag world?

So, the ship discovers a rogue comet. Mark it on the astrogation charts for exploration later. A sandbox can take any shape around an agreed-upon mission. Hold your players to the causality of their decisions to stay on-mission or to dump the Patron's contract.
Flexibility: absolutely. The players should have the ability to make whatever decision they want, but just as in the mundane world they are subject to the consequences of their actions. Breaking a contract? If they want to. Then they can head off to wherever has taken their fancy, but sooner or later things are going to catch up with them, and they'll have to take their lumps.
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  #37  
Old July 27th, 2017, 09:54 PM
Lycanorukke Lycanorukke is offline
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Originally Posted by Ulsyus View Post
Breaking a contract? If they want to. Then they can head off to wherever has taken their fancy, but sooner or later things are going to catch up with them, and they'll have to take their lumps.
As long as it is a 'natural' consequence of their action/inaction, and not just the GM having a snit that the PC's didn't do what he expected/wanted them to do.
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  #38  
Old July 29th, 2017, 04:05 PM
Keklas Rekobah Keklas Rekobah is offline
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On this very website, buried deep in the past (well, July 7th, 2009 08:46 PM, to be exact), is a document titled "The Seven Adventure Components" by Flykiller. It is a very useful document for wrapping one's head around the meta-concepts of playing and refereeing Traveller.

http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Dis...ad.php?t=19934

I've kept a copy in my Ref's Folder, and review it occasionally to make sure that what I'm doing is more right than wrong.

I mean, pobody's nerfect, right?
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  #39  
Old July 29th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flykiller View Post
ah. So multiple skill-sets, enabling characters to fully interface with most aspects of most situations. Could you post such a character as an example?
Any old character with background skills will do -- even Level-0 skills have ~72% chance of success under "Routine" circumstances (CT: Roll 2D for 8+ to succeed).

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what was your naval experience?
6 years as an electronics technician, specializing in radio communications (including LOS, MARS and SATCOM), with training in internal comms, radar, security/surveillance systems and coffee-makers.
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  #40  
Old July 29th, 2017, 06:05 PM
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Any old character with background skills will do
oh. for a "drive the action" character I was envisioning "drive the action" skills, rather than "along for the ride" skills. the reason I mentioned engineers is because the characters seldom are in any position to drive any game decisions, and often are run by players who pick that character for precisely that reason. ditto for medic and navigator (though miya could be quite an exception).

I found there are players who can be nothing but the leader, and there are players who can be nothing but followers, and there are players who will follow leaders but who blossom amazingly when alone and free to make decisions on their own.

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6 years as an electronics technician
six years a nuke electrician's mate. dealt mostly in rust and soldering. once repaired a meter by soldering the movement back onto its wire mounts, got .80 accuracy out of it. the mechanics smashed it again, real hard to make sure it stayed down that time ....
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