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Old February 4th, 2016, 06:14 AM
cym0k cym0k is offline
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Default Open Table, sandbox, Traveller. Oh my.

I'm asking this for a potential GM I know. We are spit balling ideas for an open table game using Traveller and how to make it work.

The idea would be to run a regular monthly session set in a sandbox Traveller universe at an open table. If some players cannot make it, so be it. Characters can come and go but the game progresses regardless.

I quote:
Quote:
I've done this with B/X before, so I know that what's needed are:

- an area rich with reasons to "adventure" (with B/X it was a known dungeon)
- ways to hook a random party every session (with B/X it was the usual rumourmill and fragments of map for sale)
- a home base that PCs are expected to start from and return to every time (with B/X obviously the local town or inn)

I have a few ideas for space opera-like sandboxes, but most of them require a reasonably coherent group of players - at least a couple of regulars. Working to figure my options for more or less random players now. A couple of ideas that come to mind:

- PCs are at some kind of base, making forays into frontier looking for artifacts or a specific mcguffin item. Sort of Indy Jones in space. I figure this could be a base on a frontier world with archeological sites from a dead civ (or equialent subsector) or an interesting variation might be for the base to be near an enormous alien derelict that "freebooters" explore like a megadungeon.

- PCs are members of a large enough crew to justify frequent team changes. This one seems to require episodes rather than truly sandbox play.

- PCs are on some vessel in motion, perhaps a "cruise ship" on a known route. Rumour mill and such could come into play and a variety of intrigues both on board and at ports of call are possible. Sort of love boat in space.

Other options that come to mind? Looking for things that don't require persistent plots other than what emerges from play, and which don't create difficulties with players coming and going.
I had a quick search to this kind of thing on the forum. The T5 sandbox thread came up. But I am also thinking "would Pirates of Drinax work?" However I am not that familiar with the campaign.

Thoughts and guidance on how to run a Traveller game at an open table....
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Old February 4th, 2016, 09:15 AM
warwizard warwizard is offline
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Once you have a common Our Traveller Universe and a group of experienced players you just do rotating referees so you only need to referee every 6 weeks or so and can have some ideas developed a bit more and attach them into your 6x6 matrix in the place of one of the stubs. But you do not railroad the party, let the party go where it will and if they avoid what you brought this week so be it. That way if the group has some long term goal they are attempting to reach the session's adventure might just be party driven rather than referee driven, and the referee can just present the universe's reaction to whatever they are doing.

One session could be running a year of action at the colony the group set up, another session is the group carrying off the trade goods the colony has produced and trying to find the items they need the most to help develop the colony, or perhaps taking a load of involuntary colonists off the hands of that TED J-4 away.
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Old February 4th, 2016, 11:07 AM
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For me, in this situation I'd have a patron/employer that issues episodic missions but there could be a larger plot running and connecting things.

I guess the first thing to decide is what type of missions and style of gaming does the overall group want? Mercenaries and combat? Diplomacy and intrigue? Cops (bounty hunters or other law enforcement) or robbers?...

Then from there, configure a central government, corporation, criminal gang, cruise ship, navy battleship or whatever that would likely send select personnel off to complete such tasks.

Because the GM doesn't know who will be showing, and what character skills will be available prior to game time, one may think sandbox and wing it as to what the individual missions are. Optionally, the GM can still put great detail and thought into the episode/story because if PCs are working for a large enough organization it's just that "Joe" is unavailable and on another assignment and for this mission NPC "Jane" will be filling that role.

Something I've heard that others do is have each player create multiple characters. The impact of one player being unavailable is reduced because it's more likely that some other player has a character with the required skills.

The main issue is having the episode concise and coming to a stopping point back at "base" for a "debriefing" so that the next game session can pickup and go with whoever shows.
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Old February 4th, 2016, 11:55 AM
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When I've been in groups that had variable attendance we had one of the other players run the absent player's character. It lent to improved attendance when characters got schmucked by the borrowing player.
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Old February 4th, 2016, 01:00 PM
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A few general ideas to add to your list...

Characters
The players are all part of a merchant convoy (crew members, passengers, etc) doing a long term route in a sector. This would allow for pretty much any career choice.

This could also be done with a military convoy with some of the players still being active in their service. And you should be able to find just about every career in one of those depending upon which version you are using. Some of the extended career specialties may be a bit tough to fit in there (like the Drifter or Citizen in Mongoose), but with a little creativity I am sure a good GM could get it to work.


Adventures
Each session is a different event on the tour. Usually this would be a port-of-call where the ship stops but it doesn't have to be. It could be something that happens on the ship/convoy such as sabotage, murder, answering a distress call, etc.

This way the patron could be anyone from a passenger on one of the ships to the captain to new orders that come in to a stranger they meet at the starport. Depending upon how diverse the character careers are you may need to have different types of patrons ready for each port with adventures geared towards parties with different strengths.

Now on to the second part of your question...

The Pirates of Drinax
I am currently running this campaign with my group and it I think it would make a great setting for something like this due to the way it is structured. However, there are pros and cons so here they are..

PROS
* There are 10 modules that, with the exception of pretty much the 1st and last can be done in any order (though the story does make a bit more sense if they are done in order).
*It covers a large part of the Trojan Reach so there are plenty of diverse and interesting places to visit and it has a mission and patron for almost every system it mentions in the adventure. I don't recall off the top of my head, but it is probably at least 30+
* Between the modules the players can do pretty much whatever they want and there is not time restrictions.
* It would be pretty easy to "split the party" into different groups that could approach things in different ways (ie: combat vs diplomacy vs trade)
* The GMs can drop any type of random stuff in whenever they want.

CONS
* Most of the modules could require multiple sessions to complete, it depends on how quickly the group can make decisions and how much role-playing everyone does.
* You would probably need a minimum of 1-2 players who were regulars and could help the GM keep things moving in the right direction.
* Some of the modules, once started, are a bit linear and at least one has a timer where the group has 25 weeks to accomplish their goal. This could be difficult if the group is fluid.
* Some of the modules would make it a bit difficult to swap characters out (in a story logical way) if they go multiple sessions.

Hope that helps and good luck!
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Old February 4th, 2016, 01:28 PM
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Any adventure that you can turn into a continual setting feature is a good candidate for a regular draw.

I like your Indiana Jones in Space angle in particular, because I think it's flexible enough to appeal to a wide audience.

I also like the Home Base concept A LOT. It gives the players a safe haven that they have some control over (and can store assets for later use).

You could use Pirates of Drinax as a backdrop, and allowing players to play within that adventure setting in ways that don't necessarily advance the adventure's plot. Use it as a springboard to play within it, in other words.

That would work for other adventures, as well. Twilight's Peak, for example, can be stretched out as a Long Game, with a lot of madness going on that alternately advance and extend the plot though achievements and complications. Add in Zhodani spies, small-time pirates, and subsector "legitimate businessmen" into a mix of Imperial skullduggery and corporate intrigue.

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Old February 4th, 2016, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cym0k View Post
I'm asking this for a potential GM I know. We are spit balling ideas for an open table game using Traveller and how to make it work.

The idea would be to run a regular monthly session set in a sandbox Traveller universe at an open table. If some players cannot make it, so be it. Characters can come and go but the game progresses regardless.

I quote:


I had a quick search to this kind of thing on the forum. The T5 sandbox thread came up. But I am also thinking "would Pirates of Drinax work?" However I am not that familiar with the campaign.

Thoughts and guidance on how to run a Traveller game at an open table....
You might want to have a look at my blog for some ideas. I've posted a dozen or so adventure seeds for various times and regions, though you could easily port any of them to any time frame or any world.
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Old February 4th, 2016, 09:09 PM
Putraack Putraack is offline
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Drinax should work, especially if you can be ready to run things that aren't the 10 published modules. There's enough of a sandbox in the Trojan Reaches to have years of playing.

My group reached the point where they had multiple ships, and thought about having multiple crews and PCs. Thus, ship A would have player 1 as captain, ship B had player 2 as captain, and so on. Players would have characters (individual or generic) on different ships, and the adventure of the month might be on different ships. Using different ships might work for a group that has scrambled attendance?
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Old February 4th, 2016, 09:30 PM
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Forward scout base/mercantile base should work well, episodic scout adventures, startown encounters and built in you have to deal with people because they are the only ones that can get you what you need RIGHT NOW, private money ventures, intel/diplomacy missions disguised as exploration/trade, SAR, all manner of stuff to drive short adventures.

One mcguffin I built into the current group was they had to have a pet. The pet could be traditional, exotic/alien, neopet with the capability to talk, or robot, but it had to be something.

The idea was when I had to get into some detailed interaction that had to be private, I could activate one of the pets and have them play opposite one of the other players. The pet wants something or is freaking out over something or is sick, and that would be like the subplot/comic relief of many Star Trek episodes. It could also work for your intermittent grouping situation.
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Old February 5th, 2016, 05:39 PM
cym0k cym0k is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Putraack View Post
Drinax should work, especially if you can be ready to run things that aren't the 10 published modules. There's enough of a sandbox in the Trojan Reaches to have years of playing.

My group reached the point where they had multiple ships, and thought about having multiple crews and PCs. Thus, ship A would have player 1 as captain, ship B had player 2 as captain, and so on. Players would have characters (individual or generic) on different ships, and the adventure of the month might be on different ships. Using different ships might work for a group that has scrambled attendance?
This sounds groovy. The main issue is running a series of sessions in OTU and not knowing who will/won't turn up for a given session. It is possible that there may be an outpost in the back of beyond, and a patron with characters drawn from the population on a needs basis (Babylon 5 springs to mind).

My own suggestion was to run it like a convention game, but every time with a subtle metaplot underneath that can be drawn out if needed. Supply a roster of characters and off you go with players picking one as the character becomes available.
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