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Starting a new campaign

Hey, I'm starting up a new campaign with my regular group and I wanted to get some opinions/suggestions.

The initial setup will be several adventures long, to put them through hardship and let them bond enough to want to stick together as a group:

The players (2 with 2 characters each) have all just mustered out from various services. They each cashed in a passage on the Subsidized Merchant Bryer's Luck and was heading to a subsector capital world to find jobs and such. At this point perhaps two of the character know each other but for the most part none of the group has met yet. The merchant stops at a nothing world for refuelling. It could have skimmed the gas giant but it went planetside because this world has an odd atmosphere and multiple suns so every morning the dawn in spectacular...aurora borealis stuff that lasts hours. The Bryer's Luck crew thought their passengers would enjoy stretching their legs and seeing a natural wonder. The world is completely uninhabited save for a dozen or so scientists in a research station on the other side of the planet who are there to study the phenomenon.

When the Bryer's Luck takes off there is a huge blast in the nearby sky (the military PCs will recognize as an atmospheric nuke) and when the players wake up they find the subsidized merchant upside down and planted into the side of a hill. The only survivors are of course the PCs and perhaps an NPC passenger or two. The campaign begins with one simple goal: Survival.

The question is...what things should I test the players with. I forsee that the ship itself is pretty much fried from the crash and the EMP of the nuke, but they could get some things working, perhaps building a vehicle out of scrap parts and grav plates, etc. They might try to walk the distance to the mountains to find the researchers (They were told about them by the crew of the ship before the crash), or they may try and stay put.

I've already told them it's not the movie Pitch Black so there aren't hordes of critters chasing them...of course I could have lied
Still, what do you think? Natural disasters... unscrupulous scientists, hidden pirates, NPC goes nuts? What sounds good to give the players some challenges above and beyond their current situation?
Researchers have accidently powered up an old alien(?) outpost/base. The ship was shot down and now the security bots (or awakened staff) are patroling the planet.

Hidden pirates are good, they could join or die OR
kill and have lots of loot. Of course in the last option the authorities make a raid the day after the heroes destroy the pirate den and of course mistake our heroes as the pirates ;)

Or they see a space ship land and head off to be rescued. Only to find out that the ship is crewed by people who would rather eat our survivors than rescue them. ;)

(I have been watching to much Lost in Space TV shows lately ;)


the aurora affects humans and places them in a slight hypnotic state.

a predator lives in the sands, lurking and springing up when prey comes near.

the perfidious mind-raping zhodani have a secret base here.

the crashed ship turns out to have been smuggling something illegal.

one of the surviving NPC's is a very important person travelling incognito to avoid pursuing assassins, papparazzi, jealous lover(s), and/or law enforcement officials.

the explosion was not a nuke but a space/time rupture. the characters are now several weeks into the future. they find their dead bodies laying somewhere.

they find the remains of some ancient civilization with some self-defense machinery still operable (that's how their ship was shot down).

they find a crashed fighter that dates from the Nth interstellar wars. several period military antiques, valuable to collectors, are aboard.

the planet is swept by vast storms or rattled by major earthquakes.

they find some large rideable beast, and must capture and tame it if they want to survive their journey to the research station.

an isolationist religious sect has settled here near a spring. they are hostile or helpful depending on how the party acts towards them.
Originally posted by flykiller:

an isolationist religious sect has settled here near a spring. they are hostile or helpful depending on how the party acts towards them.
Same but the religious sect is actually guarding a Ancient's site that they consider holy.

The only person onboard to survive is an archaelogist intent on getting into the Ancient's site invariably angering the local religious sect.

The PCs are guilty by proxy and have to figure out how to get away or calm down the locals.

Or maybe how to get into the site and out with goodies without getting skinned alive by the locals first.

Neat ideas
Here's a bit more information.

The nuke was set off by the research center. Every year or so thell do an atmospheric nuke to see how the disruption affects the solar effects. For safety and to check global responses they set it off on the other side of the planet. They didn't know the player's ship was there....or did they?

The world they are on is Dawnworld in District 268...in technically independant space but also close to the Sword Worlds...which is actually where the ship was coming from.

I've rolled up the cargo the freighter had:

5 tons mechanical parts
7 tons body armor (nothing heavier than cloth)
5 tons fruit
1 piece of farm machinery...a grain harvester massing about 30 tons

of course with the ship upside down the cargo hold is a wreck, the harverster could be used as a vehicle but it's now 30 tons of upside down junk. The players may try to do something with it...caniballize it for parts to make some other vehicle, in which case we get into a "Flight of the Phoenix" scenario.

I do have one thing planned that should be sutble enough to put the characters on edge for a good while. The fruit is an obvious resource...so obvious is they may forget to raid the ship's galley. Regardless, the fruit is refrigerated and perishable..and the players don't know that when it ferments it has certain hallucinogenic effects ;)
Have you seen two Classic Traveller adventures:

Adventure 3 Twilight's Peak
Double Adventure 4 Marooned/Marooned Alone?

Also, you'll need to figure out to what extent did the EMP damage equipment. Are ALL electronic devices so much silicon scrap? If so, then hand computers, personally owned commo and cobbling together an air/raft are out. Maybe they can slink an ATV together
Also, remember that any electronic sights and many advanced firearms will be fragged too.

Just my Cr 0.02
A starship hull is worth something for EMP protection, forming a substantial faraday cage. Some devices would be unharmed, some scrap.
Wow. This sounds really depressing for a beginning adventure.

If the concept is basic survival, I would through weather at them. Have the temperature drop rapidly at night to the point they may freeze to death if the proper precautions arn't taken. And at "high noon" the temp swings the other way so that they may bake in the blazing sun.

Let them know the basic direction of help. Or danger? Allow them to use their creativity of what's left in the ship that can survive extremes in weather while moving away from the crash site. They will have to travel in the twilight hours at the opposite ends of the clock so to speak.

You will need to find a good reason why a merchant ship wouldn't be detected by an important research station that sets off nukes on a regular basis. Perhaps this is an amber or red zone world and the captain of the doomed ship is taking a short cut to save on fuel costs. Maybe he has arranged a meeting to do a highly illegal trade and that is his real reason for dumping the passangers off for a few hours. He could have radical stealth, or has paid off someone at the research station to "look the other way" when his ship shows up on the scope.
Maybe the research station is breaking the law by setting off nukes and they are hunting the PC's to "clean up the mess" so the word doesn't get out.

There is a possibility if you make their first adventure too harsh, they may not want to continue to play, so give them a little levity along the way. Perhaps they can run into a kooky half crazed hermit who is actually a lost scientist long thought dead, or maybe the nuclear blast has downed another ship that they see go down in the distance. It turns out to be a bulk freighter full of the little umbrellas the goes in tropical drinks... :cool:
Or a ship full of cookies, but no milk...
Can you imagine, lost on a world for months with nothing to eat but a cargo hold full of Granny Space Knickers Chocolate and chive cookies? :eek:
They would hate you even while they laughed their buts off...
What ever it is, if the whole adventure becomes too doom and gloom, you might need to throw in a little comic relief. But that's just me. :)

Good luck, and my only advice is to really flush out exactly why nukes are set off, why the ship decides to dump is passengers on planet while it refuels, and why the research station wouldn't know that they are there. Being on the other side of a planet may hide it from land based radars and sensors, but space based units could easily pick up jump signatures. Really think through this and have answers when they start asking you questions. The reasons I've already mentioned could be worked into the way for them to get out of their fix.

Finally, reward them. If this first adventure is going to be a downer, literally, make it worth it.
Good luck.
Or maybe how to get into the site and out with goodies without getting skinned alive by the locals first.
religious sects are not always hostile. the site may have them in thrall, and they may seek some relief from it. or they may welcome exploration of it, never having been able to do so themselves.
What ever it is, if the whole adventure becomes too doom and gloom, you might need to throw in a little comic relief. But that's just me.
no, it's a good thought.

every once in a while the adventurers see, off in the distance, a nude female on a grav bike tear-assing around. she's just out on an ocassional joy-ride and doesn't know the adventurers are there, and their efforts to catch her attention fail.
They don't call it Traveller for nothing!
My player's hate hate hate being stuck on any one planet for more than three or four session's. I've tried several times to get them involved in planetary revolutions of sorts and their response is almost allways to go for the head, ie a strike raid on the palace/capital/parliament etc etc. I'd suggest you don't try to drag out this marooned aspect of your starting adventure for more than three or four sessions. Having said that getting the players to co-opperate with each other in order to survive/bond is a great start.
Lost in Space
Deep Space 9

Or the world is portal to parallel universes and they do not know they have slipped into a new one until they come across another traveller

i.e. there is so much coming at them each week (I mean each session ;) that they do want to leave

In reality it really does depend on the players.

Ok.... we played last nite so here's what they've come up with so far:

The players almost started hiking off without too many provisions and such, but reminded them that what ever they take is whatever they got and to write down everything on an inventory. The realized that weight would be an issue so they looked into fabricating some vehicles. While it it true that most ships are shielded against things like flares and radiation and such, you pretty much have to get into the realm of military vessels to have protection against nukes. So, most of the ship systems were fried. Personal items were for the most part ok, but the character with electronics skill had to give everything a going over to make sure they were working. They are a bit worried that someone tried to shoot them down with a nuke, though there would be much easier ways to do it than that. Still, a little paranoia goes a long way ;)

The ship is upside down and leaning on a hill so everything is jumbled, especially what was in the cargo bay. All the crates and such were pinned under the big grain harvester. That would have been a good vehicle for them but it was upside down as well. They used hand and makeshift power in cargo hold to latch onto the harvester and pull it up the slope. It took them five hours but the got it pulled up about 7-10 feet so that was enough to get under it and pull out supplies and crates.

Among that they found the freighter's cargo loader...like a forklift. They pulled that out and got it working, scavaging small guide wheels from the harvester and putting them on the loader to make it able to handle the terrain. It's too slow and small for use as a vehicle for all of them but they're using it as a mule...driven by the eldery NPC it's going to carry their supplies while the rest of the group walk.

Don't worry...there's going to be plenty of humor. Our group is fun-loving anyway so they're plenty of that regardless of the game. I like the idea of the chick on the gravbike. I'll save that for when they begin to hallucinate from eating the fermenting fruit. They're taking two sacks worth with them

They have 2 NPCs with them...other passengers who survived. A man in his early 100s and his 26 year old granddaughter. Both are out of the Citizens of the Imperium book. The Granddaughter is the #16 scientist (Computer-1, Vehicle-1, Survival-1). She's fresh out of college so she has a lot of 'helpful' book learning but no practicle experience. The old man is a simple farmer (it was his harvester they were transporting), but what no one knows, not even his granddaughter, that fifty years ago he was an infamous pirate. He's long since retired and trying to atone for things, but he used to be the scourge of the subsector. At some point in the course of things the frail little man will probably have to tip his hand...perhaps if they all make it to rescue, thanking the players by tipping them off to a secret stash of his...they only have to get to it....

In the meantime I'll throw several of your ideas into the mix, and keep them coming
I think at some point to speed the journey up they'll find a river and be able to raft quite a distance on it...if you have any ideas for river adventures, speak up ;)

Thanks for all your suggestions and help so far!
The book by David Drake
is something I think you would find as interesting reading with this adventure.

Another book (series) is by John Ringo
March Upcountry
March to Sea
March to Stars

It is almost like your initial concept ;)

I have personally done way worse to PCs in the startin' sessions of a campaign, and as long as they see the light at the end of the tunnel it's been fine for the players. Pretty much every player I've had LOVES to get their ass kicked and then go get some payback.

Is it possible the researcher's are merely a watchpost for these pirate folks, or some kind of latter day 'wreckers'. They just target free traders with no real protection to wreck and pillage?

Maybe the experiment is what the PCs do to escape the rock? Them researchers could be really whacked out psychologists, and a coupla of the PCs are a type of Humaniti they ain't studied closely yet? The planet is one big happy Skinner Box.
At present the idea I was developing was that the researchers were the rescue point and the nuke bringing down the ship was an unfortunate accident not forseen by either side.

I haven't decided if the researchers realize what they did yet. If they did there are two choices...one they're coming to rescue the players, or two, they're coming to silence the players.

Rescue could still give the players problems as since they're not sticking with the wreck it'll be some time before they're found...and when they are the players might just be paranoid enough to start shooting first...especially if the hallucinogenic fruit has kicked in.

Of course silencing the players has problems and connotations all it's own....are all the researchers in on it or just one or two scientists with hidden agendas? If they scientists are of the sinister variety, Tucker's ideas have some merit too...like a big experiment.

If the players need some help (assuming you use Tucker's idea) you could have some NPC that have been able to stay hidden from the Scientists. These NPC are survivors from previous nuke accidents ;)

Or you can have the group run across a patrol from another government if the world is Balkanized or a landing party of smugglers, pirates, Swordworlders, ect. trying to figure out what happened to something that the scientists where supposed to have that they wanted or they got it from them only to find it broke and are trying Kidnap someone in the party, someone in the base, or find another.
Those folks being stuck dirtside already makes it hard to back-track the plot, so just fermented fruit and insane PCs are fine for me. How to play that out though? I suppose you could just tell them you see Zho combat speeders zippin' to and fro, feed their fears and whatnot, and hope someone snaps to before they murder their rescuers.

It'd be a hoot to have a bunch of PCs turn outlaw from eatin' forbidden fruit, like the damage from the stuff they ate is semi-permanent. Maybe they send a gift basket to Archduke Dulinor...
I have an idea for a campigan that takes place during the 5th frontier ware where the PCs are a unit of Mech pilots (yes like in Mech Warrior but more like Mobile Suit Gundam) that are mercs for the Imperium or actual Soildiers of the Imperium. but I dont know how to do it right please any help on designing the Mechs and putting them into a first Adventure and a design for a first Adventure.