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  #1  
Old February 27th, 2015, 10:18 AM
Murphy Murphy is offline
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Default Has someone tried a West Marches style campaign for Traveller?

This is a campaign concept I find quite interesting:
http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.ph...-west-marches/

Almost like a pen&paper MMORPG.
Been wondering for the better part of this week if I can adapt this to a Traveller setting.

P.S. The irony of the name (spinward is the galactic west) does not escape me.
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  #2  
Old February 27th, 2015, 12:29 PM
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MMORPG?

What is being done seams to simply be a decision to offer

one shot sandbox adventures with reusable pregen characters for whoever happens to be available whenever they are available
vs the groups typical
long running structured/preplanned campaign with the same characters and players that is played on scheduled days

Not sure why there would be a problem adapting this to Traveller.
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Old February 27th, 2015, 04:35 PM
salochin999 salochin999 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
This is a campaign concept I find quite interesting:
http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.ph...-west-marches/

Almost like a pen&paper MMORPG.
Been wondering for the better part of this week if I can adapt this to a Traveller setting.

P.S. The irony of the name (spinward is the galactic west) does not escape me.
I'd imagine so. The "fort" could be a central planet and instead of having a ship the players could all work for an agency on that central planet which gets contracts for jobs in the sub-sector and sends a variable set of the player characters on their books on some mission or other (transported by the agency's own ships).

Somewhere like Collace or Mertactor in District 268 maybe?

http://travellermap.com/?scale=90.50...0.399&y=42.614
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Old February 28th, 2015, 12:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicGamer View Post
MMORPG?

What is being done seams to simply be a decision to offer

one shot sandbox adventures with reusable pregen characters for whoever happens to be available whenever they are available
vs the groups typical
long running structured/preplanned campaign with the same characters and players that is played on scheduled days

Not sure why there would be a problem adapting this to Traveller.
Hmm. Supposedly it's not just a string of one-shot adventures -- the whole idea is that players should get the feeling they are playing in the same world. There's several times more players in the campaign than in any single session, and then they are encouraged to compare notes. Hence the MMORPG comparison.

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Originally Posted by salochin999 View Post
I'd imagine so. The "fort" could be a central planet and instead of having a ship the players could all work for an agency on that central planet which gets contracts for jobs in the sub-sector and sends a variable set of the player characters on their books on some mission or other (transported by the agency's own ships).

Somewhere like Collace or Mertactor in District 268 maybe?

http://travellermap.com/?scale=90.50...0.399&y=42.614
That's kinda what I'm thinking, too. Except I'm basing them in Foreven. Up until this time, I had very little reason to use a sector with no official published data, and it seems like good opportunity to fill in the blanks.

It could work with Pirates of Drinax, too.
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Old February 28th, 2015, 01:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
Hmm. Supposedly it's not just a string of one-shot adventures -- the whole idea is that players should get the feeling they are playing in the same world. There's several times more players in the campaign than in any single session, and then they are encouraged to compare notes. Hence the MMORPG comparison.
Exactly.

It's not pre-gen characters played by whomever shows up. It's a large group of players, each with their own character. Whomever shows up plays his or her character.

The idea is that the West Marches is there to be explored. The fun is that because different players play in different sessions, the players, session to session, are passing on new information to players who weren't there the last session or two sessions or whatever.

Here's a taste from the blog:

Quote:
"Shared World: the Table Map
"The other major way information was shared was the table map. When the game first started the PCs heard a rumor that years ago when other adventurers had tried their luck exploring the West Marches, they had sat in the taproom of the Axe & Thistle to compare notes. While trying to describe an area of the wilds, a few thirsty patrons had scratched out a simple map on the top of the table (an X here, a line here). Over time others started adding bits, cleaning it up, and before long it had grown from some scratches to a detailed map carved into most of the surface of the table showing forests, creeks, caves, ominous warnings, etc. Where was that table now? Gone, but no one was sure where — maybe carried off as a souvenir, smashed in a brawl and used for kindling, or perhaps just thrown out after it was too scratched to rest a drink flatly.

"On hearing this story the PCs immediately decided to revive the tradition (just as I hoped they would) and started to carve their own crude map on a large table in the taproom of the Axe & Thistle. As the campaign went on all the PCs would gather around it, quaff an ale, and plan adventures. In the real world it was a single sheet of graph paper with the town and the neighboring areas drawn in pretty well, and then about four or five more pieces of graph paper taped on haphazardly whenever someone wandered off the edge or explored just a little bit farther. Because the map was in a public place and any PC could get to it, I brought it to every game session for the PCs to add to or edit and kept a reasonably up-to-date scanned copy on the web for reference between games. In the end maybe half a dozen different players had put their hand to it.

"Was the table map accurate? Not really, but having a common reference point, a shared sense of what they thought the region looked like kept everyone feeling like they were playing in the same world.

"An intentional side effect of both game summaries and the shared map was that they whetted people’s appetite to play. When people heard about other players finding the Abbots’ study in a hidden room of the ruined monastery, or saw on the map that someone else had explored beyond Centaur Grove, it made them want to get out there and play too. Soon they were scheduling their own game sessions. Like other aspects of West Marches it was a careful allowance of competitiveness and even jealously to encourage more gaming.

"It was also important to me as a GM that players share knowledge because otherwise I knew that no one would put the pieces together. Remember how I said there was no plot? There wasn’t. But there was history and interconnected details. Tidbits found in one place could shed light elsewhere. Instead of just being interesting detail, these clues lead to concrete discoveries if you paid attention. If you deciphered the runes in the depths of the dwarven mines, you could learn that the exiles established another hidden fortress in the valleys to the north. Now go look for it. Or maybe you’ll learn how to get past the Black Door or figure out what a “treasure beyond bearing” actually is. Put together the small clues hidden all across the map and you can uncover the big scores, the secret bonus levels."
The PCs/Players, as they learn more about the world, learn about it in any direction they travel. There's nothing one-shot about it at all.

Murphy, I think to pull this off you'd really be better off either getting outside the Third Imperium or starting a new subsector from scratch. I think you need a rougher, less tamed terrain. Something the scout service hasn't surveyed twice. Something where the PCs are wandering into environments that aren't handily in their ship's library.
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Old February 28th, 2015, 03:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

...

That's kinda what I'm thinking, too. Except I'm basing them in Foreven. Up until this time, I had very little reason to use a sector with no official published data, and it seems like good opportunity to fill in the blanks.

It could work with Pirates of Drinax, too.
Makes sense. The District 268 option would work for certain kinds of adventures but if you want actual exploration then you need to set it elsewhere.

###

edit: reading the west marches link again this next bit doesn't fit the idea

There could be lots of good hooks in that kind of setting for people hiring the players: mapping terrain on worlds with a lot of atmospheric interference, archaeologists looking for ancient or alien sites, botanists/biologists looking for new species, commercial groups looking for trade opportunities, investigating anomalies etc. If one set of players got captured in one game the next game could be other players sent to rescue them.

###

(An alternative for lazy people like me is to use known space but go backwards in time to when it was first being explored. I half finished the background for an early Vilani campaign where they'd only been expanding out of Vland for 200 years or so and the players were going to start at a base on a system in a corner of a sub-sector on the frontier and explore it from there in yearly missions (so there was time for the sub-sector to develop i.e. the 6th mission might start on the recently completed forward base built on the planet they first explored in the 1st mission).

Last edited by salochin999; February 28th, 2015 at 04:58 AM..
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Old February 28th, 2015, 04:43 AM
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The "danger steps" seen in the original West Marches campaign are a little harder to implement in a common sense style space setting unless you go big and make subsectors or clusters the equivalent of those steps.
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Old February 28th, 2015, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by creativehum View Post
It's not pre-gen characters played by whomever shows up. It's a large group of players, each with their own character. Whomever shows up plays his or her character.
Sorry, I only read the first page, the summary, and did not delve into all the links. My impression was there was a group of pregens and the players could pick whatever one they wanted each session.

Perhaps I misunderstood because I liked the idea that you could play a regal diplomat one time, a geeky scientist another. Being able to play perhaps a wider range of scenarios than a set group of characters would allow or go deeper into something, like everyone could pick pregen rogues one time and play out a session as a criminal gang. The next time they could be playing law enforcement trying to catch that gang from the previous session.
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Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
Supposedly it's not just a string of one-shot adventures -- the whole idea is that players should get the feeling they are playing in the same world.
Again, sorry. That was a poor choice of wording on my part and taken not the way I intended.

Would perhaps replacing "one-shot" with "individual" be more appropriate?

I understand the setting is, again, I can't find the right words. "Constant" but not quite, it changes, moves forward, the individual adventures are a string and linkable.

Partially the "one shot" comment was to reflect what I thought above, that the characters and objectives and goals from one session to the next could change even if the setting, history, and and such were persistent.
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Old February 28th, 2015, 12:55 PM
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Late to the party again

I came up with a scenario which involved the planet of Pampas. The PC were delivering a load of farm equipment to the planet (Of course they were guns and explosives.) which they had no idea they were transporting. The Land Baron who commission the import of these weapons was attempting to create his own little country on the planet and had an army of mercenaries. The Land Baron was a smart cookie and kept them in line and his plans secret.

The local homesteader were farmers and small rancher (Groat framers). The colonial Marshal knew something was up but didn't have the support of the central Government (It seems he had this thing about law and order and was exile to this out of the way place because of it.) This is the classic western setting.

While the goons are off loading the ship one of the numbskulls drops a case and fearing the crew might have seen what was inside. He takes them to the main house and gives them dinner. Of course he drugs them and dumps them in the marshal's lap saying they had stolen something of his. The Marshal has no choice but to incarcerate them. They wake up and depending what they did after this they would either endear themselves to the town folks or be seen as the Land Baron's goons who fell out of favor with him.

What kept them in town was the fact the Harvest was 6 months away and the Maglev system was only operational during the Harvest. If they tried to steal the crop duster or Helicopter they would be in trouble with the marshal. And of course the Judge wouldn't arrive until the Harvest.

The Marshal gives them a choice between spending time in jail or finding jobs within the community until the Judge comes. Of course the player will accept that offer and they start finding away to get their ship back (which is at the starport and not a the Land Baron's estate.).

Long story short: It was an adventure that dealt a lot with if they did x they Y would happen. If they were with in the law then the townspeople would accept them and they would get more freedom, if they did something stupid, then they would fall out of favor with the people and the sheriff. I had several scenario that had to happen first before the climatic battle with the Land Baron took place.

The technology was modern era: Assault rifles, auto pistols, jeeps and quads.
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Old February 28th, 2015, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GypsyComet View Post
The "danger steps" seen in the original West Marches campaign are a little harder to implement in a common sense style space setting unless you go big and make subsectors or clusters the equivalent of those steps.
Perhaps in a frontier/unexplored area those "danger steps" are extreme systems connecting lightly settled or minimally surveyed clusters. The old jump-rating choke point but instead of being valuable trade stops they are hazards to be overcome. In a J2-J3 setting you could have 3 or 4 clusters of worlds in a subsector to be explored that are connected by increasingly dangerous isolated systems - required stops for wilderness refueling. Flare stars, chamanx on a garden world, heavy meteor showers, abandoned rogue AI, what have you.

The original premise is a little tougher to pull off in sci-fi, agreed, but if you have a few "safe towns/keeps" scattered throughout a dangerous area of space, rather than just one, it could work.
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