• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

Not the Iron DM Tournament

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
@pemerton - it's my experience with reading and writing for IDM that stats are mostly extraneous to the first round. The focus is on the ingredients and adventure design. It can help to write for a specific game, but you're running the risk that the judge you get doesn't know that game at which point the stats are wasted. Even if they aren't wasted, the stats are chewing word count that could be better spent on tying the actual adventure together.

The bit about dim light was to index that despite the above, there's no specific need to toe that line here, unless practice for future IDMs is the specific plan.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

pemerton

Legend
@pemerton - it's my experience with reading and writing for IDM that stats are mostly extraneous to the first round. The focus is on the ingredients and adventure design. It can help to write for a specific game, but you're running the risk that the judge you get doesn't know that game at which point the stats are wasted. Even if they aren't wasted, the stats are chewing word count that could be better spent on tying the actual adventure together.

The bit about dim light was to index that despite the above, there's no specific need to toe that line here, unless practice for future IDMs is the specific plan.
Well, I don't think I would enter Iron DM. It takes a fairly different view from mine of what scenario design looks like.

But I would assert that each of my "entries" takes the ingredients pretty seriously! And I think each of them is pretty playable, though I'll admit that none of them has actually been played yet.

EDIT: To explain a bit more - without some sense of system, I don't think a scenario is playable. For instance, my Prince Valiant scenario makes no sense in D&D (even a 1st level Cleric can stop a knight from dying). My Agon scenario makes no sense in Prince Valiant - the Signs of the Gods are a distinctively Agon thing. And my Burning Wheel scenario depends on robust non-combat PvP resolution.

And I don't need to assert that Dragoliir is a terrible bard; or that Tripp lives in a wonderful world. The PC write-ups reveal it!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Don't get me wrong, you used the ingredients well, my post was as much for the people following along at home as it was for you. IDM is very much a specific thing, and I think it's useful in this particular thread to pay some attention to that.
 

pemerton

Legend
Ghost Mushrooms
Rotting Utopia
Bear Necessities
Armored Lizard
Rootless Tree
Broken Angel
I'd left this one alone, because I don't think I can compete with @chaochou's cyberpunk!

But my mind goes to something Cthulhu-esque, set in the late nineteenth century: a decrepit circus set up in a somewhat desolate field, with an animal show (starving bears; a komodo dragon) and a big top held up by an old tree trunk; of course it collapses.

The broken angel might be a Christmas allusion, or a person. In my mind that would depend on the PCs the players brought to the situation, and hence the trajectory of the game.

EDIT: This could also be done in Wuthering Heights, although the ghost mushrooms become more contingent - perhaps if a PC eats the poisonous mushrooms they return as a ghost?
 

Wicht

Adventurer
for a one-shot (which I take it is the logic of Iron DM)
This is sometimes true but not universally true. As with Dungeon magazines offerings of old, there is no reason a scenario must be a one shot. My first round scenario this go assumed a broader campaign. One year I linked my entries in all three rounds to one another. Entries come in all shapes and sizes.
 

Ghost Mushrooms
Rotting Utopia
Bear Necessities
Armored Lizard
Rootless Tree
Broken Angel

This one is a good one for Dogs in the Vineyard so here is what Town prep might look like under these directives:

PCs

* Brother Elijah

Trait: My pa said I came out of ma twice the size I should have and with huge paws for hands. If I get into a tussle I've always got the Bear Necessities he used to joke (2d6).

Relationship: That is before some scoundrels from the east killed him in cold blood over a game of cards. I don't suffer eastern scoundrels well (1d8).

Relationship: My mother had to peddle flesh so I wouldn't starve. The Lord of Life says that's bad. I guess he took her for it. I'm so sorry mama (2d4).

* Sister Rootless Tree

Relationship: My mother was of the Mountain People. She was a wanderer and a healer. I took her namesake as I took her life in birth. In my service as a Dog I hope to honor it (1d4).

Belongings: My mother's medicine pouch (1d8).

Belongings: My father's Colt Dragoon from service (1d4, 1d8).


Town/Sitch

Palestone is Bridal Falls sister across a field of low slung buttes. It was once a little slice of Faith and utopia. It is rotting.

The government and people of the east bring strange words, fetishes, practices. Familiar Sin.

Florida Man's spectacle of a giant armored lizard maimed a child. The infection that's settled in is nearly claiming her. The man won't make amends of his own and the barrister is too frightened of the beast to prosecute. Who heard of such things? Injustice. Seems like Deceit on behalf of the barrister too...but I ain't that well versed in the nuance of The Faith.

The city folk bring the pestilential Ghost Mushroom. The peddlers promise secret visions of the other side and speaking in languages not of man but of the angels themselves? Apostasy and False Doctrine. And it reeks of Sorcery.

Someone's taking matters into their own hands. A hotel's seen three alleged working women killed something awful in their rooms these last weeks. A broken angel statuette sitting in front of the room door as an omen. Like a gargoyle from the old tales. Only Dogs are commissioned to root out Sin and mete out justice. Violence and False Priesthood. I think that inn keep needs a talking too as well on account of Wordliness at the very least.


NPCs (I'm not carving them out in full...just a hair...you flesh them out during play as needed)

* FLORIDA MAN

Stats - Acuity 4d6, Heart 3d6, Body 4d6, Will 4d6
Traits - 2d4 (Stubborn as a Mule), 1d10 (Smarter than He Looks), 1d10, 1d4
Relationships - 2d6, 1d4, 1d6 (Blood)
Belongings - 2d8 + 1d4 (Huge, Scary Gator)

* BROTHER FENWICK THE BARRISTER

Stats - Acuity 4d6, Heart 2d6, Body 3d6, Will 3d6
Traits - 1d6, 2d10 (Always Reframe the Argument), 1d10, 1d4 (Shrink from Physical Challenge)
Relationships - 2d6, 1d10 (Connected), 1d6 (Blood)

* SHROOM PEDDLAR

Stats - Acuity 3d6, Heart 4d6, Body 4d6, Will 4d6
Traits - 1d6, 2d4 (Charlatan), 1d10, 1d4
Relationships - 3d6, 1d4, 1d6 (Blood)
Belongings - 2d8 (Pouch of Stuff Like Rootless Tree)

* SISTER ROSA (INN KEEP)

Stats - Acuity 5d6, Heart 5d6, Body 4d6, Will 3d6
Traits - 1d6, 2d4 (Short Fuse), 1d10 (Proper), 1d4
Relationships - 3d8 (Govt Protection), 1d4, 1d6 (Blood)
Belongings - 2d6 (Sturdy and Well-Kept Logbook)

* SERIAL KILLER? RETIRED DOG?

Stats - Acuity 6d6, Heart 5d6, Body 5d6, Will 4d6
Traits - 2d6, 2d10, 2d4, 1d4
Relationships - 1d6, 2d4, 1d6 (Blood)




That's pretty much Dogs. Come up with Sins and Sitch that interact with your PCs' thematic portfolio (and the general premise of play). Roll up and lightly sketch out some NPCs in broad brush strokes. Sort out their extra dicepool later as needed. Provoke with situation/NPCs, escalate, reflect on the calamity and revelations that resulted from the various collisions of play.
 
Last edited:

Rune

Once A Fool
Thoughts on Untitled Dogs in the Vinyard Scenario:

Looks very interesting!

First, about the system itself. I’ve never had a chance to come across it, but I think I can see some seeds of design philosophy that would end up later on in Apocalypse World (and, hence, it’s many offspring). Looks very much like a system intended to let conflict lead to narrative, to mechanical resolution, to narrative, to conflict, and so on.

I assume the unassigned dice in the NPCs’ write-ups are meant to be filled out as needed in play. The serial killer, in particular, might end up being anybody. Even another NPC?

I like the varied conflicts presented here. Seems like kind of a lot to do here before moving on to the next town.
 
Last edited:

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
On the one hand, I approve of any scenario that can work in Florida Man! I suppose once you have an armored lizard ...

On the other hand, I'm not sure that "smarter than he looks" is the appropriate trait? There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than Florida Man in the depths of a bath salts & meth binge, and I knew he'd get a hankerin' for the Crystals drive thru pretty soon ....
 

Thoughts on Untitled Dogs in the Vinyard Scenario:

Looks very interesting!

First, about the system itself. I’ve never had a chance to come across it, but I think I can see some seeds of design philosophy that would end up later on in Apocalypse World (and, hence, it’s many offspring). Looks very much like a system intended to let conflict lead to narrative, to mechanical resolution, to narrative, to conflict, and so on.

I assume the unassigned dice in the NPCs’ write-ups are meant to be filled out as needed in play. The serial killer, in particular, might end up being anybody. Even another NPC?

I like the varied conflicts presented here. Seems like kind of a lit to do here before moving on to the next town.

That’s correct. Dogs and Torchbearer are the only “prep-intensive” (lol?) games I GM outside of Moldvay dungeon crawls.

This entry is a fair enough example of Dogs prep. Sin + Situation + NPCs hooking into PC Relationships/Traits and the premise of the game. Each Town probably takes me 15 minutes of prep (on the high end). Nail some stuff down but keep most things (some of situation and about 50 % of NPC stuff) unfixed until play firms them up.

Provoke the players to action > Follow their lead > Escalate > Tally Fallout > Reflect.

On the one hand, I approve of any scenario that can work in Florida Man! I suppose once you have an armored lizard ...
On the one hand, I approve of any scenario that can work in Florida Man! I suppose once you have an armored lizard ...

On the other hand, I'm not sure that "smarter than he looks" is the appropriate trait? There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than Florida Man in the depths of a bath salts & meth binge, and I knew he'd get a hankerin' for the Crystals drive thru pretty soon ....

I can confirm this firsthand!
 

pemerton

Legend
Each Town probably takes me 15 minutes of prep (on the high end). Nail some stuff down but keep most things (some of situation and about 50 % of NPC stuff) unfixed until play firms them up.
Of the three scenarios I wrote up, the quickest I think was After the battle. I came up with the idea pretty-much straight away, as soon as I looked at it through the lens of Prince Valiant. But then I had to write it up in the canoncial style which took a bit of time. And while I was writing it up I had the idea for the alternative "secret situation".

I started writing Kassos in the evening, and it took me probably 15 minutes just to settle on my signs of the gods! But then had to sleep on it: it was only when I woke up that I had come up with an idea of how to connect the two or three key NPCs, and get the cult worked in without multiplying the complexity too much.

With the Burning Wheel scenario I had the idea for the "historic bridge", the "uncivil war" and the "terrible bard" right away: the latter in particular reflects the fact that I'm currently a bit obsessed with the "Paths of Spite". And I wanted Rhyme of the Unraveller because of its possible interaction with the ruined bridge. It still took a while to write up Dagoliir's character, though, because BW is pretty stat-intensive. Sorting out Tripp's character took longer - I was pretty sure I wanted Bastard in there from the start, to establish the conflicted link with the human warband leader, but finding the right set of lifepaths to produce a character who fits the situation, and has the mechanical oomph to stand up to one of Burning Wheel's overpowered Elves took quite a while (certainly more than an hour). And once I had both characters statted up I then had to sort out the Beliefs and Instincts, which took a while too as those are pretty crucial to the situation.

Also, the idea for the shoes flowed from the fact that when building Dragoliir I had enough resource points to buy a remote refuge (the foundation hall), and clothes, and finery, but not shoes. This is a different illustration of @chaochou's comment in the OP about creating situations under constraints!
 

@AbdulAlhazred, is the laugh in response to the shoes, or the whistling in a bridge scenario, or something else I missed?
I was just thinking of all the possible ways these characters can butt heads. I agree, things could well turn out that they cooperate. I was watching The Netflix show 'Cobra Kai', and it has 2 characters who are very similarly conflicted. Sometimes they cooperate, sometimes they smack each other silly.
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
The Ingredient lists are up to 7, and the word count to 1500. Here's a recent one which just finished:
  • Slippery Slope
  • Morale Check
  • Limbless Beast
  • Heavy Crown
  • Subpar Hero
  • Vanished Behemoth
  • Tomorrow’s Match
I'd been trying to put together an earlier set together for something for Traveller but it hasn't come together. C'est la vie!
I don't have an actual write up for this, but I did have an idea that sprang pretty much fully formed into my head when I read the ingredient list. So, here goes...

This is for OSR games. The Cult of the Behemoth wants to raise their scaled master from his slumber in the deepest depths of the sea. The ritual to raise him takes the form of blood sport, played out in a offal pit hidden deep underground, its sloped sides covered in the corpses of previous fighters and their foes. On certain nights a champion, wearing the Crowned Helm of the Behemoth, is lowered into the pit, and buckets of offal are tossed toward the hole that forms the center of the sloped arena. In that lightless well live the limbless halfbreed offspring off the behemoth, warped and savage, who swarm out at the smell of blood. The Champion must last two turns of the glass and dispatch at least one of the limbless beasts in order to complete the ritual. If he succeeds he is raised out of the pit, and if he fails another champion will be found. The Cult believes that when all the beasts are slain, the Behemoth will arise. Lately, the swarm has been much smaller than in previous years, and the Cult hopes that their ritual, years in the making, will soon be complete.
 

pemerton

Legend
The Ingredient lists are up to 7, and the word count to 1500. Here's a recent one which just finished:
  • Slippery Slope
  • Morale Check
  • Limbless Beast
  • Heavy Crown
  • Subpar Hero
  • Vanished Behemoth
  • Tomorrow’s Match
I'd been trying to put together an earlier set together for something for Traveller but it hasn't come together. C'est la vie!
I'm working on a Classic Traveller set up for this set of ingredients - Traveller because it's the only system I'm familiar with that uses PC-side morale checks.

Work and home have both been fairly busy over the past few days, but hopefully I can post something soon.
 

I don't have an actual write up for this, but I did have an idea that sprang pretty much fully formed into my head when I read the ingredient list. So, here goes...

This is for OSR games. The Cult of the Behemoth wants to raise their scaled master from his slumber in the deepest depths of the sea. The ritual to raise him takes the form of blood sport, played out in a offal pit hidden deep underground, its sloped sides covered in the corpses of previous fighters and their foes. On certain nights a champion, wearing the Crowned Helm of the Behemoth, is lowered into the pit, and buckets of offal are tossed toward the hole that forms the center of the sloped arena. In that lightless well live the limbless halfbreed offspring off the behemoth, warped and savage, who swarm out at the smell of blood. The Champion must last two turns of the glass and dispatch at least one of the limbless beasts in order to complete the ritual. If he succeeds he is raised out of the pit, and if he fails another champion will be found. The Cult believes that when all the beasts are slain, the Behemoth will arise. Lately, the swarm has been much smaller than in previous years, and the Cult hopes that their ritual, years in the making, will soon be complete.
Yeah, 'tomorrow's match' certainly evokes a death sport kind of theme! I was thinking that 2 of the other 'ingredients' would be some of the contestants, like Slippery Slope in this corner vs Subpar Hero in the other corner! lol. Heck, maybe ALL of them could be the names of fighters, with fun powers. I wonder what power 'Heavy Crown' has? lol.
 

pemerton

Legend
It's been a while, but with a bit of tinkering here and there, and a final big push this evening, I've written my Traveller scenario. As I mentioned upthread, I chose Traveller for this mostly because it's the only system I play that uses "morale checks". To me it also feels like there's a bit of a Dying Earth vibe

By my count the words are just over 1,400. And the ingredients are:

Slippery Slope​
Morale Check​
Limbless Beast​
Heavy Crown​
Subpar Hero​
Vanished Behemoth​
Tomorrow’s Match​

The Arena

Imagine a world which is little more than a starport. A starport and an arena. In the arena, gladiatorial heroes do battles with great aquatic beasts for the entertainment of jaded nobles watching from air-conditioned boxes.

Tupic Querogt

B (no bases) – 55A – 338 – 8 – Wa, Lo, Ni

Tupic is a mid-sized world with a thin atmosphere (5% greenhouse) and almost totally water-covered (70% cloud-covered; 0.426 albedo; average surface temperature of 43° C); its population of around 800 is concentrated at the Muso arena; its government is a self-perpetuating oligarchy, the managers of the arena and overseers of the gladiatorial stables.

Its period of rotation is 63 hours; its orbital period is 1,500.9 days. It has three moons which exercise a considerable tidal influence and disrupt the formation of ice-caps, plus one major artificial satellite:

Average orbit of 16,000 km: G – 200 – 36A – 7 (10.6 hour orbital period; underground training base for hundreds of gladiators, governed in a highly restrictive fashion by the ruling oligarchy);

Average orbit of 32,000 km: Y – S00 – 168 – 7 (31 hour orbital period; a small team is preparing for the construction of a new training base on this 700 km diameter satellite);

Average orbit of 36,000 km: G – 100 – 326 – 7 (36.8 hour orbital period; a self-governing group of former and escapee gladiators);

Average orbit of 50,700 km: Type B starport (geosynchronous orbit; refined fuel available; capability to construct non-starships and undertake repairs and maintenance; a branch of the Travellers’ Aid Society; regular shuttle services to Muso).​

Its star, Querou, is a white main sequence star: F5 V, with orbits 0 to 13 (none empty): Tupic is in orbit 5; gas giants are in orbits 7, 8 and 12; planetoid belts are in orbits 0, 6 and 11.


One of those nobles hired you, to crew her vessel and guard her personage. You've spent a week in Muso: Lady Gora placing bets on arena fights, you keeping watch over her and her purse while her security chief stays with in orbit aboard her interstellar yacht, the Luminous Coronet.

NPCs

Lady (Baroness) Gora
Noble (4 terms, 34 years old, entering 5th term which will see elevation to marchioness and -1 Str, Dex, +1 Int, + Carousing-1, Gambling-1; TAS member)

98767C

Spear-1 Hunting-1 Carousing-1
Air/Raft-2 Gambling-1

Cr 100,000 (hopes to win more at the arena!); Spear, Type Y Yacht (air/raft has mounted auto-rifle)


Security Chief (3 terms, rank 3, 30 years old)

554946

Small blades-1 Tactics-1 Air/Raft-2 Streetwise-1
Auto-Rifle-1 Recon-1 Commo-2

Cr 2,000; High Psg, Security kit (lockpicks, disguises, electronic tools)

PCs: engineer, pilot, medic, steward

Navy Lieutenant (7 terms, rank 3, 46 years old + physical training – promoted to Ensign, then Lieutenant in the final two terms; TAS member)

366BA7

Foil-1 Vacc Suit-3 Computer-1 Medical-2
Cbt Rifles-1 Commo-1 Engineering-2 Liaison-1

Cr 25,900; High Psg, Foil


Navy (2 terms, 26 years old + experience; an aide to the Lieutenant; TAS member)

88BA97

Heavy Weapons-1 Vacc Suit-1 Navigation-1 Commo-1
Ship’s Tactics-1 Ship’s Boat-1 Pilot-1

Cr 10,000


Merchant 4th Officer (draftee, 4 terms, rank 1, 34 years old + physical training)

9C6739

Laser Pistol-1 Medical-2 Carousing-1 Bribery-1
Air/Raft-1 Jack-o-T-1 Steward-1 Streetwise-2

Cr 20,900; Middle Psg, Cutlass, Integral Laser Pistol


Merchant 4th Officer (4½ terms, rank 1, 36 years old + experience in weapons)

7666A6

Cutlass-1 Vacc Suit-1 Computer-2 Jack-o-T-1
Rifles-2 Ship’s Boat-1 Electronic-1 Steward-1
Mechanical-1 Broker-1

Cr 5,000; Middle Psg, Cutlass, Rifle


You can spend your money as you like, although the ex-merchant characters may not begin with strictly military equipment (the ex-Navy characters are assumed to have access to military surplus).


Lady Gora has taken a particular interest in an emerging gladiator, Amud the Restless. He's charming in a grotty sort of way, but rather sub-par as a fighter. Tomorrow he's scheduled to fight a Musow Behemoth. And Lady Gora has Cr 50,000 on Amud to lose. But some hours ago, the rumour started spreading: the Behemoth has vanished, meaning that – under the arena rules – Amud will win by way of forfeit.

Amud the Restless – he is heavy-hearted at the thought of being crowned champion by way of forfeit
Barbarian (2 terms, rank 1, 22 years old, entering 3rd term)

879886

Spear-1 Recon-1 Jack-o-T-1
Archery-1 Survival-1

C r 0 (but has a spear, longbow and a quiver of arrows provided by his sponsor)

And so that’s how you find yourselves in your current circumstances: having taken the air/raft out of the ship’s boat and flown it to a small atoll over 100 km from Muso, with auto-rifle mounted in defiance of local prohibitions on carrying weapons, to try and stop the loading of the exotic behemoth from a submersible onto a half-submerged safari vessel so that it might be taken to another world for sale.

Each of you can answer one of the following questions – you should give the answer from the perspective of your character, not from a “god’s eye” point of view:


How did the poachers gain access to the behemoth pen?

How did you locate the safari vessel?

What precautions have you taken against the heat and the water?

Who stands to benefit from Amud winning tomorrow’s match and being crowned champion?

If answering a question requires you to make a throw for a skill or other characteristic, make the throw and apply the result to your current situation (if it’s unclear, the referee will determine how). If it requires you to spend credits, mark the expenditure on your character record. If it involves the existence or activities of a NPC, the referee will take care of that aspect of things. Your answer does not need to be a complete one – if in doubt, follow the fiction and apply the appropriate resolution system.

Once the questions have been answered, it is time to address the situation you find yourselves in!



For the referee: The submersible is a 30 ton vessel of the sort used to carry beasts to the arena: it has a holding pen and a cramped cabin for the pilot and two other crew, and travels at about 15 kph. It has surfaced in the cargo hold of the safari ship, half-submerged on the atoll, with the pen aligned for unloading into the vessel’s holding tank.

The hunter is piloting the submersible; the pirate and rogue are outside in the vessel’s air/raft, overseeing the transfer. The ex-Naval Lieutenant is in the water in a protective suit (equivalent to cloth armour) with underwater air tanks. The pilot and engineer are at their respective posts.

The sides of the submersible are sloping and slippery; the same is true of the atoll. The hold of the starship is full of water. If the submersible or the starship lose their alignment, the behemoth can escape. The tide will rise very quickly.

If anyone is hurt, two things will happen: that side of the conflict must make a morale check (in accordance with the rules); and the limbless beast will lunge out from its place of concealment in the atoll, to try and take the body.

If/when the PCs return to Muso, an appropriate Law Level check must be made given the illegality of their armed air/raft.


Safari ship owner and crew (muscle, steward, medic, pilot, engineer)

Hunter (4 terms, Age 34 years old, entering 5th and final term – will suffer -1 Dex, gain +1 Int)

7988BA

Laser Pistol-2 Hunting-1 Air/Raft-1
Survival-1 Submersible-1
Vacc Suit-1 Jack-o-T-1

Cr 0 (but hopes to gain some from this venture!); Laser Pistol (and power pack), Type K Safari Ship


Pirate Sergeant (4 terms, rank 3, 34 years old)

B9CA74

Brawling-2 Small Blades-1 Gunnery-1 Commo-1
Combat Rifles-1 Large Blades-1 Tactics-1 Gambling-1
Ships Tactics-1 Streetwise-1

Cr 50,180; Mid Psg, Cloth Armour, Blade, Cutlass, Assault Rifle (loaded)


Rogue (5 terms, 38 years old)

AB7798

Brawling-2 Air/Raft-1 Bribery-1 Carousing-2 (Steward-1)
Shotgun-2 Computer-1 Streetwise-2 Liaison-1

Cr 10,000; High Psg, Shotgun (loaded)


Navy Lieutenant (3 terms, rank 3, 30 years old + experience in weapons; TAS member)

475BBB

Dagger-1 Fwd Obs-1 Navigation-1 Medical-1
SMG-1 Vacc Suit-2 Electronic-1

Cr 25,000


Navy (½ term, 20 years old)

56979A

Ship’s Tactics-1 Navigation-1 Pilot-1 Computer-1

Cr 0


Navy (½ term, 20 years old)

69359B

Electronic-1 Mechanical-1 Engineering-1

Cr 0


Musow Behemoth
Killer, maritime surface swimmer
12,000 kg
Always attacks, even if attacked
1x speed 10D/5D jack hide, claws (+1) for 7D+3


Limbless Beast
Hijacker, maritime shallows amphibian
6,000 kg
When encountered, attack if attacked or throws 5+; otherwise flees 7+ or else stands
3x speed 9D/4D teeth for 7D-3
 

It's been a while, but with a bit of tinkering here and there, and a final big push this evening, I've written my Traveller scenario. As I mentioned upthread, I chose Traveller for this mostly because it's the only system I play that uses "morale checks". To me it also feels like there's a bit of a Dying Earth vibe

By my count the words are just over 1,400. And the ingredients are:

Slippery Slope​
Morale Check​
Limbless Beast​
Heavy Crown​
Subpar Hero​
Vanished Behemoth​
Tomorrow’s Match​

The Arena

Imagine a world which is little more than a starport. A starport and an arena. In the arena, gladiatorial heroes do battles with great aquatic beasts for the entertainment of jaded nobles watching from air-conditioned boxes.

Tupic Querogt

B (no bases) – 55A – 338 – 8 – Wa, Lo, Ni

Tupic is a mid-sized world with a thin atmosphere (5% greenhouse) and almost totally water-covered (70% cloud-covered; 0.426 albedo; average surface temperature of 43° C); its population of around 800 is concentrated at the Muso arena; its government is a self-perpetuating oligarchy, the managers of the arena and overseers of the gladiatorial stables.

Its period of rotation is 63 hours; its orbital period is 1,500.9 days. It has three moons which exercise a considerable tidal influence and disrupt the formation of ice-caps, plus one major artificial satellite:

Average orbit of 16,000 km: G – 200 – 36A – 7 (10.6 hour orbital period; underground training base for hundreds of gladiators, governed in a highly restrictive fashion by the ruling oligarchy);​
Average orbit of 32,000 km: Y – S00 – 168 – 7 (31 hour orbital period; a small team is preparing for the construction of a new training base on this 700 km diameter satellite);​
Average orbit of 36,000 km: G – 100 – 326 – 7 (36.8 hour orbital period; a self-governing group of former and escapee gladiators);​
Average orbit of 50,700 km: Type B starport (geosynchronous orbit; refined fuel available; capability to construct non-starships and undertake repairs and maintenance; a branch of the Travellers’ Aid Society; regular shuttle services to Muso).​

Its star, Querou, is a white main sequence star: F5 V, with orbits 0 to 13 (none empty): Tupic is in orbit 5; gas giants are in orbits 7, 8 and 12; planetoid belts are in orbits 0, 6 and 11.


One of those nobles hired you, to crew her vessel and guard her personage. You've spent a week in Muso: Lady Gora placing bets on arena fights, you keeping watch over her and her purse while her security chief stays with in orbit aboard her interstellar yacht, the Luminous Coronet.

NPCs

Lady (Baroness) Gora
Noble (4 terms, 34 years old, entering 5th term which will see elevation to marchioness and -1 Str, Dex, +1 Int, + Carousing-1, Gambling-1; TAS member)

98767C

Spear-1 Hunting-1 Carousing-1
Air/Raft-2 Gambling-1

Cr 100,000 (hopes to win more at the arena!); Spear, Type Y Yacht (air/raft has mounted auto-rifle)


Security Chief (3 terms, rank 3, 30 years old)

554946

Small blades-1 Tactics-1 Air/Raft-2 Streetwise-1
Auto-Rifle-1 Recon-1 Commo-2

Cr 2,000; High Psg, Security kit (lockpicks, disguises, electronic tools)

PCs: engineer, pilot, medic, steward

Navy Lieutenant (7 terms, rank 3, 46 years old + physical training – promoted to Ensign, then Lieutenant in the final two terms; TAS member)

366BA7

Foil-1 Vacc Suit-3 Computer-1 Medical-2
Cbt Rifles-1 Commo-1 Engineering-2 Liaison-1

Cr 25,900; High Psg, Foil


Navy (2 terms, 26 years old + experience; an aide to the Lieutenant; TAS member)

88BA97

Heavy Weapons-1 Vacc Suit-1 Navigation-1 Commo-1
Ship’s Tactics-1 Ship’s Boat-1 Pilot-1

Cr 10,000


Merchant 4th Officer (draftee, 4 terms, rank 1, 34 years old + physical training)

9C6739

Laser Pistol-1 Medical-2 Carousing-1 Bribery-1
Air/Raft-1 Jack-o-T-1 Steward-1 Streetwise-2

Cr 20,900; Middle Psg, Cutlass, Integral Laser Pistol


Merchant 4th Officer (4½ terms, rank 1, 36 years old + experience in weapons)

7666A6

Cutlass-1 Vacc Suit-1 Computer-2 Jack-o-T-1
Rifles-2 Ship’s Boat-1 Electronic-1 Steward-1
Mechanical-1 Broker-1

Cr 5,000; Middle Psg, Cutlass, Rifle


You can spend your money as you like, although the ex-merchant characters may not begin with strictly military equipment (the ex-Navy characters are assumed to have access to military surplus).


Lady Gora has taken a particular interest in an emerging gladiator, Amud the Restless. He's charming in a grotty sort of way, but rather sub-par as a fighter. Tomorrow he's scheduled to fight a Musow Behemoth. And Lady Gora has Cr 50,000 on Amud to lose. But some hours ago, the rumour started spreading: the Behemoth has vanished, meaning that – under the arena rules – Amud will win by way of forfeit.

Amud the Restless – he is heavy-hearted at the thought of being crowned champion by way of forfeit
Barbarian (2 terms, rank 1, 22 years old, entering 3rd term)

879886

Spear-1 Recon-1 Jack-o-T-1
Archery-1 Survival-1

C r 0 (but has a spear, longbow and a quiver of arrows provided by his sponsor)

And so that’s how you find yourselves in your current circumstances: having taken the air/raft out of the ship’s boat and flown it to a small atoll over 100 km from Muso, with auto-rifle mounted in defiance of local prohibitions on carrying weapons, to try and stop the loading of the exotic behemoth from a submersible onto a half-submerged safari vessel so that it might be taken to another world for sale.

Each of you can answer one of the following questions – you should give the answer from the perspective of your character, not from a “god’s eye” point of view:


How did the poachers gain access to the behemoth pen?

How did you locate the safari vessel?

What precautions have you taken against the heat and the water?

Who stands to benefit from Amud winning tomorrow’s match and being crowned champion?

If answering a question requires you to make a throw for a skill or other characteristic, make the throw and apply the result to your current situation (if it’s unclear, the referee will determine how). If it requires you to spend credits, mark the expenditure on your character record. If it involves the existence or activities of a NPC, the referee will take care of that aspect of things. Your answer does not need to be a complete one – if in doubt, follow the fiction and apply the appropriate resolution system.

Once the questions have been answered, it is time to address the situation you find yourselves in!



For the referee: The submersible is a 30 ton vessel of the sort used to carry beasts to the arena: it has a holding pen and a cramped cabin for the pilot and two other crew, and travels at about 15 kph. It has surfaced in the cargo hold of the safari ship, half-submerged on the atoll, with the pen aligned for unloading into the vessel’s holding tank.

The hunter is piloting the submersible; the pirate and rogue are outside in the vessel’s air/raft, overseeing the transfer. The ex-Naval Lieutenant is in the water in a protective suit (equivalent to cloth armour) with underwater air tanks. The pilot and engineer are at their respective posts.

The sides of the submersible are sloping and slippery; the same is true of the atoll. The hold of the starship is full of water. If the submersible or the starship lose their alignment, the behemoth can escape. The tide will rise very quickly.

If anyone is hurt, two things will happen: that side of the conflict must make a morale check (in accordance with the rules); and the limbless beast will lunge out from its place of concealment in the atoll, to try and take the body.

If/when the PCs return to Muso, an appropriate Law Level check must be made given the illegality of their armed air/raft.


Safari ship owner and crew (muscle, steward, medic, pilot, engineer)

Hunter (4 terms, Age 34 years old, entering 5th and final term – will suffer -1 Dex, gain +1 Int)

7988BA

Laser Pistol-2 Hunting-1 Air/Raft-1
Survival-1 Submersible-1
Vacc Suit-1 Jack-o-T-1

Cr 0 (but hopes to gain some from this venture!); Laser Pistol (and power pack), Type K Safari Ship


Pirate Sergeant (4 terms, rank 3, 34 years old)

B9CA74

Brawling-2 Small Blades-1 Gunnery-1 Commo-1
Combat Rifles-1 Large Blades-1 Tactics-1 Gambling-1
Ships Tactics-1 Streetwise-1

Cr 50,180; Mid Psg, Cloth Armour, Blade, Cutlass, Assault Rifle (loaded)


Rogue (5 terms, 38 years old)

AB7798

Brawling-2 Air/Raft-1 Bribery-1 Carousing-2 (Steward-1)
Shotgun-2 Computer-1 Streetwise-2 Liaison-1

Cr 10,000; High Psg, Shotgun (loaded)


Navy Lieutenant (3 terms, rank 3, 30 years old + experience in weapons; TAS member)

475BBB

Dagger-1 Fwd Obs-1 Navigation-1 Medical-1
SMG-1 Vacc Suit-2 Electronic-1

Cr 25,000


Navy (½ term, 20 years old)

56979A

Ship’s Tactics-1 Navigation-1 Pilot-1 Computer-1

Cr 0


Navy (½ term, 20 years old)

69359B

Electronic-1 Mechanical-1 Engineering-1

Cr 0


Musow Behemoth
Killer, maritime surface swimmer
12,000 kg
Always attacks, even if attacked
1x speed 10D/5D jack hide, claws (+1) for 7D+3


Limbless Beast
Hijacker, maritime shallows amphibian
6,000 kg
When encountered, attack if attacked or throws 5+; otherwise flees 7+ or else stands
3x speed 9D/4D teeth for 7D-3
Icky, the PCs will have a hard time winning that fight! Although the Auto Rifle on the air raft will help. Still, the bad guys are well-armed and seem unlikely to give up without a fight, particularly that Pirate Sergeant (assault rifle, cloth armor, bad news).

The real question though is how the referee will run the whole 'can the behemoth escape' element. I mean, were I the pirates/hunter, I'd just suspend loading operations and deal with the intruders in the simplest brute force way possible! Why would anything go wrong? Moreover the attacking PCs have little reason to mess with the loading aspect of things. I'd assume their best bet is to get aboard the Type Y yacht and insure that nobody can take off!

OTOH the real meat of the scenario is in the initial 'figure out how we got here' because PRESUMABLY the only point of that is to either establish one or more of the bad guys as secret allies, or to establish the intervention of some sort of authorities/reinforcements who will tip the odds in their favor.

Also we don't know what EXACTLY constitutes victory conditions. Is it enough for the PCs to establish that the behemoth was stolen in order to fix the fight? I guess not or else that would simply be the assumed outcome, since someone had to take it. So, victory can only mean recovering the creature alive.

Maybe there could be other more creative solutions? Hard to say. My bet is various ploys are tried and things basically resolve down to a straight-up fight, possibly with the bad guys facing less good odds than the basic setup. The real question is just how far the ref will let a player go in terms of carving out some sort of extrapolated scenario.
 

pemerton

Legend
@AbdulAlhazred

Well, I haven't run it. I did some eyeballing on the combat stats and I think it's feasible.

The moons were the result of random generation (using Supplement 6 extended world generation) and I didn't try and do any maths or Googling about tides but figure a big moon that close must produce some pretty dramatic tidal action, and I think that is the key - in the referee's hands - to introducing complexity into the confrontation.

Other options I thought of included the PCs trying to join with the poachers in order to share in the proceeds (perhaps stealing the Type Y on the way out?); or knocking off the poachers but carrying out their plan themselves; as well as more tactical stuff like trying to take control of their vessel (the NPCs can't easily defend the submersible and the bridge at the same time) or doing something funky with the submersible (eg if the PCs are equipped with diving gear and explosives).

The "flashback" stuff I deliberately left rather open-ended. It seemed to me that possible options include getting some sort of leverage over Amud, or the poachers, or both; having to expend resources to establish the PCs presence at the atoll; even getting leverage (eg with the oligarch who is backing Amud) to avoid getting in trouble for travelling with a militarily-armed air/raft on a Law Level 8 world.

Overall, I would expect the players to first establish a goal for the main scene, and then to use the flashback resolution to help build towards that goal in various ways. But there are other possibilities, too - the players don't have to be a many-headed hydra . . .
 

@AbdulAlhazred

Well, I haven't run it. I did some eyeballing on the combat stats and I think it's feasible.

The moons were the result of random generation (using Supplement 6 extended world generation) and I didn't try and do any maths or Googling about tides but figure a big moon that close must produce some pretty dramatic tidal action, and I think that is the key - in the referee's hands - to introducing complexity into the confrontation.

Other options I thought of included the PCs trying to join with the poachers in order to share in the proceeds (perhaps stealing the Type Y on the way out?); or knocking off the poachers but carrying out their plan themselves; as well as more tactical stuff like trying to take control of their vessel (the NPCs can't easily defend the submersible and the bridge at the same time) or doing something funky with the submersible (eg if the PCs are equipped with diving gear and explosives).

The "flashback" stuff I deliberately left rather open-ended. It seemed to me that possible options include getting some sort of leverage over Amud, or the poachers, or both; having to expend resources to establish the PCs presence at the atoll; even getting leverage (eg with the oligarch who is backing Amud) to avoid getting in trouble for travelling with a militarily-armed air/raft on a Law Level 8 world.

Overall, I would expect the players to first establish a goal for the main scene, and then to use the flashback resolution to help build towards that goal in various ways. But there are other possibilities, too - the players don't have to be a many-headed hydra . . .
Right, they could join the poachers, or... I think the flashback is a reasonably clever way to both frame the action into a single ultimate scene that resolves everything, and give the players a lot of leeway. I haven't seen that technique used with Traveller before, and it certainly wasn't something the system itself suggests. However, it will certainly work for the opening gambit of a campaign, or for a one-shot in this case.

And, yeah, I am not so sure that parties necessarily are going to be of one mind. It could turn out to be a fairly amusing scenario with half the party managing to get some allies to show up, and the other half trying to join the 'bad guys'.

Some additional possibilities suggest themselves as well. Your scenario doesn't actually cast anyone in a 'villain' role, though it suggests that perhaps the Hunter et al are working in the employ of someone who wants to have over on the PC's employer. It could be entirely different though. Perhaps the Noble Lady has some ulterior motives, or just family ties to the powers that be in this system. Those powers might not be all that popular, or at least have enemies. So it could be there are larger forces at work. A clever player might leverage that in his 'flashback' time (IE maybe the Navy shows up with a cruiser to put some things to rights!).
 

pemerton

Legend
I think the flashback is a reasonably clever way to both frame the action into a single ultimate scene that resolves everything, and give the players a lot of leeway.
It's kind of you to say so!

I haven't seen that technique used with Traveller before, and it certainly wasn't something the system itself suggests.
I'm sure it's not a technique that's original to me or this scenario. But from my point of view, I invented it for this scenario to solve a particular structural problem: how do I ensure there's a conflict that points strongly towards a morale check (one of the ingredients) while avoiding a railroad?

EDIT: I'm familiar with BitD in general terms, but I think my flashbacks work differently. Also the old 3E/d20 module Three Days to Kill doesn't use flashbacks but does have a tight structure with an ultimate scene - I've never played it but have read it and thought about running it, and it influenced me a bit too I think.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top