If it's "crunch" that you want, where do you want it and why?

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
I prefer most crunch to be front-loaded (relegated to character gen and other pre-play portions of the game), although I do like some tactical choice during combat.
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
Yeap, as some folks have been posting, GM dropping a jack in the box is something you need to be careful about. I was being way to indirect about adventures. I mean, the PCs knew about every opportunity, it just wasn't rewarding enough and too risky apparently. I learned that for me as a Referee that the standard pay your mortgage campaign doesn't work for my GM style.

Players have a tendency to be risk-averse at the best of times in many cases, and when you put the cost-to-benefit too much in the forefront, its easy for them to always chose the most low-risk options, no matter how dull they are.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Yeap, as some folks have been posting, GM dropping a jack in the box is something you need to be careful about. I was being way to indirect about adventures. I mean, the PCs knew about every opportunity, it just wasn't rewarding enough and too risky apparently. I learned that for me as a Referee that the standard pay your mortgage campaign doesn't work for my GM style.
That's not quite what I was suggesting. You don't leave adventures for them to find; trouble finds them and they have to adapt. Pirates, Stowaways, wanted passengers, missing freight, coercion into criminality, paperwork hassles, corrupt officials, etc.

Not to mention that freight (shipping things for others, rather than buy low sell high) alone should be just barely breakeven.

Simply put: Things don't go smooth. The rough patches are an adventure themselves. The operation itself should be a minor ongoing element.

Alien, for example, has a sandboxish approach. Generate the cargo mission, random encounters, barely achievable maintenance requirements... one of the better bad situations was a PC didn't de-stress enough and snapped.... major psychosis level snapped. Wouldn't have been a big problem for the others if it hadn't been the best engineer.... they had to coax and coerce the engineer out of the ventilation system.... which took several days. Which also risked late delivery fees, etc.

Trade is a MacGuffin, most of the time. It's there to provide a backbone.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
That's not quite what I was suggesting. You don't leave adventures for them to find; trouble finds them and they have to adapt. Pirates, Stowaways, wanted passengers, missing freight, coercion into criminality, paperwork hassles, corrupt officials, etc.

Not to mention that freight (shipping things for others, rather than buy low sell high) alone should be just barely breakeven.

Simply put: Things don't go smooth. The rough patches are an adventure themselves. The operation itself should be a minor ongoing element.

Alien, for example, has a sandboxish approach. Generate the cargo mission, random encounters, barely achievable maintenance requirements... one of the better bad situations was a PC didn't de-stress enough and snapped.... major psychosis level snapped. Wouldn't have been a big problem for the others if it hadn't been the best engineer.... they had to coax and coerce the engineer out of the ventilation system.... which took several days. Which also risked late delivery fees, etc.

Trade is a MacGuffin, most of the time. It's there to provide a backbone.
I get ya. I dont tend to do small one shot adventure type stuff that well. What I do well is massive conspiracies that the PCs must engage with one way or another, but they usually have plenty of agency. Im trying to work on that more episodic a hitch in the normal giddy up type of game style.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I get ya. I dont tend to do small one shot adventure type stuff that well. What I do well is massive conspiracies that the PCs must engage with one way or another, but they usually have plenty of agency. Im trying to work on that more episodic a hitch in the normal giddy up type of game style.
Trade related conspiracies:
Dockworkers/stevadores guild.
Yardworkers guild
Megacorporate hired privateers.
Rebels mislabeling cargos...

All of those are potential long term stories that can create one-shot interactions galore.
If the dockworkers guild is striking at certain ports, the adventure is finding people to unload your cargo and move it to the warehouse. Or a guildworker notes that your ship unloaded across a picket line a few systems back, according to leaked logs... and they make life hell.
When megacorps go to war, it's by proxies... but anyone not flagged by the employer and going to certain ports is targeted for protection money... almost enough, but not quite, to make the run a loss... unless something goes wrong.

Another thing that helps in running a trade game is a table of things that can go wrong.
Maneuver drives: Misaligned. Overheating to shutdown. Timing off, making maneuvers sloppy. partial outage makes maneuver drop in acceleration.
Life support: CO2 scrubber failure. O2 tank leak. Funky smell. "It ain't dead, Jim" (microbial or macrobiotic inhabiting the systems). Slow toxins. Pressure leak. Pressure sensor failure resulting in incorrect pressures (and possibly bends and/or oxygen toxicity).

Make a list of the systems that are installed, to your comfortable level of detail. Then come up with 3 to 10 things that can go wrong with each. And what the fix is. And how hard it is to diagnose. Set the maintenance needs so that a minor mishap (cost increases due to inefficiency and/or small non-vital spares to fix non-lethal problems) is likely every 2-3 sessions.

Another tool, stolen from FFG Star Wars: everyone has a background obligation that crops up randomly. When it does, Bad Squat Happens. Such as last week's wed session, Grishkal's Imperial Bounty obligation triggered. So, a bounty hunter shows up looking to ace them. (Worse, it's not doing it for reward; it's actually an imperial owned IG-100 Magnagard...) The entire session was dealing with it directly. They mindwiped it... with a major complication (4 threat)... this week, they tried to cash in on it, player failed, and the mindwipe mishap finally manifest... as it killed an impie during a customs boarding. Their cargo - a single passenger - participated in all the fights against it.
They're all wanted by the Empire, but not at a high bounty. Yet. They're hoping to hand off the remains as a semi-functional unit to Teemo the Hutt....

This is where the crunch of the system becomes a useful tool.
the problem comes when you stop asking "how are you justifying that in character?" and just go straight to the modifiers and mechanistics. And, for some, even then, it's not a problem.

Not everyone plays RPGs as storygames. For some, they're boardgames at character scale. And that's OK when everyone at the table is good with it. I'm more towards the middle of the two.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
That's not quite what I was suggesting. You don't leave adventures for them to find; trouble finds them and they have to adapt. Pirates, Stowaways, wanted passengers, missing freight, coercion into criminality, paperwork hassles, corrupt officials, etc.

That's pretty much the approach those Andre Norton novels I mentioned took. But like I said, at least some of the people who've traditionally played that way back in the Traveler days would have read that as being railroading and been pretty soggy about it.

Not to mention that freight (shipping things for others, rather than buy low sell high) alone should be just barely breakeven.

In my experience, you'd get a mix of the two, so there was (assuming the players were on their game and the GM wasn't actively stonewalling) progression, but pretty gradual.
 

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