Behind the Scenes of the Jahn Luhn Gohn Campaign:
Episode One: Dead or Alive
This entire episode was actually based on a free online adventure for AD&D I had picked up on the net somewhere. In it the adventuring party responds to an apparent incursion of goblins against a small town, investigates the attack of the farmer, tracks the goblins back to their lair and discovers that they've been driven from their homes by a humongous bear (which led to their desperate raid on the farm and the farmer's accidental death). In order to ease tensions between the townsfolk and the goblins the adventuring party is supposed to go after the bear and liberate the goblin's original lair.
However, I knew my group well enough to know they'd never go for that. They'd insisting either on killing the goblins or at least capturing their leader to face justice back in town. This would spark significant conflict in the region but, as far as they would be concerned, too bad. They would never go with placating the goblins, especially after they raided the farm and killed the farmer - even accidentally. So I never used the adventure and put it my "needs serious jerry-rigging" stack and forgot it...until I needed an opener for the Jahn campaign.
I replaced the goblins with twitchy hill folk and exchanged the bear for a trio of bandits. Then I transported the bandits back to town where they would await the PC's when they returned and fill their place in the village with a case of mistaken identity involving some rival bounty hunters. Provided a nice plot twist and gave me something that could come back to haunt the PC's should I ever need it.
Now when I semi-fleshed out Whitefall as the setting for the first four or five episodes of the campaign I assumed that some Rim worlds would have refueling stations and docks for ships, a few vehicles in the hands of the wealthier individuals (and a source of fuel here or there to supply them) and such things. I based this off the impression I got of Whitefall from the only source material - the Firefly pilot where Mal and Zoe interact with Patience and her gang. One of them is driving some kind of four-wheeled ATV. Also, in "Safe" we see the streets of a small town on Jiangyin and get a glimpse of a small, rusty motor vehicle going by. So, I felt I was safe in assuming that some of the Rim worlds have a few "modern" luxuries like vehicles and such. Primarily, though, my Rim worlds would be overwhelmingly horse and buggy, get water from the pump outside and a complete lack of indoor plumbing.
I say all this because there was some initial debate that Marlin's possession of a hover mule on Whitefall might have been a bit much. Frankly, I would normally agree. But Marlin's background placed him in a position where he could make a living precisely because he was one of the few people on Whitefall that had such a vehicle. He got lots of work hauling this and that around the moon before the campaign began. In other words Johnny had a very reasonable explanation for Marlin's possession of such a high-tech vehicle on a Rim moon and it worked for me. Besides, the poor hover mule never even made it past episode three.
Mary used the first complication of the campaign (and our Serenity gaming as a whole) with her "Chip on your Shoulder" by actually lashing out verbally against the wounded farmer's widow, insinuating she didn't fight too hard to defend her husband. This ticked the crowd off a good bit and earned her two Plot Points. It also pretty much set the tone for the campaign, with the players taking every opportunity to use their complications to both make the game more interesting and earn lots of Plot Points.
She did it two more times in the episode by intentionally antagonizing the Cowardly Deputy, which also allowed Ally the chance to exercise her Influence skills and get some Plot Points herself when she finally got herself arrested.
Betty's nervous breakdown when Marlin approached the hill folk alone may seem a little harsh or over the top, but it was actually pretty funny. Ally and Johnny got a kick out of it after she caused so much trouble for them with her complications and Betty took the teasing well. You had to be there, I guess. Besides, I decided to call her on her Loyal complication and she botched the Willpower roll. She got two Plot Points both for the complication and for taking the teasing so well.
And because I think she's a total hottie.
Once the PC's interacted with the hill folk they did just what I knew they would. One of the rare instances when they actually don't completely surprise me. I even shook them up a bit with the hill folk getting all riled up at the prospect of going to jail.
Again the players were fairly predictable when they started shooting when the Bounty Hunter Leader reached into his coat. And again when they decided to just leave the dead bounty hunters there and hope it didn't come back to bite them in the butt later on. But, then, they usually are a little predictable during the first adventure of a new campaign. After that, all bets are off. I can only guess what they are going to do with any accuracy about half the time. They really enjoy throwing monkey wrenches, which makes GM'ing for them a real hoot.
The incident with their confrontation with the villagers over the horses just sort of happened. I thought their visit to the village was a little uneventful, despite their gunfight with the bounty hunters. So I tossed in the angry villagers wanting to stew the horses when the players decided to take them to ride back to Marlin's mule. This also put the players back in the mind set of considering the consequences of their actions. After killing the bounty hunters and just leaving them there I didn't want to them to develop a blood-thirsty or ruthless edge that I knew would ruin the whole campaign for them. The tone of the first session tends to echo through the whole campaign, I've found. So I confronted them with the choice of allowing the confrontation with the villagers to escalate to violence or just leaving the horses and suffering the indignity of walking home. They're a bunch decent of Reubens and, of course, let the villagers eat the horses.
For the same reason I was pleased as punch when the PC's decided to use a little bit of strategy in confronting the Maynard gang, despite having acquitted themselves so well in their first gunfight and being evenly matched with the Maynards. Consequently they won the fight handily despite Betty's botched attack roll and Lily getting knocked out.
Episode Two: Death by Gold
Now this episode was almost a joke. It was more or less a running gunfight with very little plot behind it. Johnny wanted "a few good fights" so he could get a handle on the combat system. Ally and Mary both wanted gold and lots of it. They all as much as said they wanted something very exciting for the second adventure and I decided to really open up with both barrels. Now, I told them right up front that I would ease any really bad consequences from this adventure since it was over so the top and we even agreed to reset all the PC's Plot Points once it was over. In the end, though, they decided to officially keep the episode in the campaign as it was just so damned much fun.
I have to admit, though, I was almost being mean with this one. In the end the PC's didn't suffer any lasting consequences but were a little pissed to have gone through so much and having absolutely nothing to show for it.
As it happened it turned out I was the one who had misjudged the combat system after all. I made the Mean Old Bastard miner reasonably tough (never mind that he was riddled with tumors) but really didn't take into account how easily he would fall when everyone in the bar started shooting back at him. But, I bit the bullet and went with it anyway. My players are tough enough to take it when they misjudge so I figure I should be, too. As it happens he barely missed dying in the first volley and managed to even hang on a while once he jumped behind the cover of the bar. A lucky botch by the bartender saved him for one more round as well, though the PC's got smart really quick and rushed the bar to shoot him point blank the moment he ducked down behind it.
I was completely surprised when my players assumed the MOB was a Reaver from my description of him. I can't blame them, though. I really emphasized how badly the radiation had slagged him. And it's my fault since I had insinuated they would see Reavers soon (having already sketched out episodes four ("Out Of The Tarring Pot....") and five ("...And Into The Black").
You'll also notice I really tend to roleplay my NPC's. You can definitely see it in this episode. This is one of the many joys of GM'ing for me personally and I make no apologies for it. Even when I have two NPC's in conflict with one another, when the players aren't even involved at all, I tend to resolve it in character and just roll with the consequences.
I think this is also the last episode where we used declared dodges. After this we switched to the "clicker" type of combat system. For those unfamiliar it simply means you can dodge anytime during the turn but can only take action on your Initiative point. All actions in the turn, including active dodges, effect all following actions with the cumulative -1 step penalty.
For example: If a character is fired on before it's his turn to act, he can either use innate dodge without penalty or use an Athletics/Dodge. Using an Athletics/Dodge counts as an action so anything they do after that first dodge is at a -1 step penalty. In other words a second Athletics/Dodge is going to suffer the -1 step penalty.
So if a character actively dodges two attacks before his Initiative point, then fires three times and ducks behind cover (a total of four actions) during his Initiative point - his second active dodge is going to be at a -1 step penalty, his first attack is going to be at a -2 step penalty, followed by -3 and -4 for his other two attacks. The act of taking cover tacks another penalty bringing it to -5. So if he should actively dodge again after all that, it probably wouldn't be worth the effort at a -5 step penalty. He'll probably be better off using innate dodge at that point.
We found this worked much better for us. Even if they finally come out with a version of the Serenity RPG that clarifies the combat rules to reinforce declared dodges, we've already decided to use this system.
Episode Three: Graveyard Shindig
You may notice right off the bat that I screwed up allowing Newtech powered revolvers. We were using the Advanced Armaments List from Scott's RPG Central (see our links section and our expanded weapons list). According to that the "powered" revolver Newtech didn't exist and I felt like that was appropriate. If the PC's wanted something similar they'd have to come up with another rational. But, since they already had them, we let it slide and later changed them to plain old Newtech revolvers since it didn't matter anyway. Still, an embarrassing slip.
This episode introduced the GM-controlled NPC Gabriel "Rooster" Watterson. I felt at the time that it might be wise to have a GM NPC to shore up the party since the combat system was so realistic (i.e. deadly) and I thought they would really find a fourth crewmen useful once they had their ship.
In retrospect I didn't play him as well as I had intended and the players didn't like having a fourth wheel all that much (though they were too polite to say it) so he kept a low profile in later episodes.
After the gunfight with the Well-Dressed Man and his thugs, the PC's decided they were madly in love with the combat system. The fight was very realistic with the PC's getting the drop on the thugs and nearly wiping them out right off the bat. And yet the Well-Dressed Man was able to escape alive and Lily was dropped with just a couple of good hits.
When Lily discovered the embedded and encrypted image on the disk she really tried to break the encryption but just couldn't pull it off. After that the PC's sort of forgot about it and missed out on the chance of learning a lot about their adopted father and his history (and, consequently, their own). This is clear in later episodes when they just don't know what the heck is going on around them. I never really clued them in directly until much later because I was dropping vague hints and references to the disk, hoping they'd remember it and find some way to crack it. But they didn't. And since we believe in suffering the consequences for missing the obvious I eventually just rolled with it and let them figure out how they were going to discover things on their own. And, of course, they promptly did.
The encounter with the Kung Fu Assassins was great. I wanted to toy with a confrontation between the armed PC's and some very deadly unarmed opponents. This went surprisingly well. Lily especially enjoyed roleplaying her very bigoted aversion to Buddhists and her remark about "damned heathen Buddhists" before shooting them both in the head had the other players laughing out loud. She got three Plot Points for refusing to treat either of them, too. Though may seem excessive, it was very appropriate because Ally roleplayed her character so fanatically.
While Lily was, in the end, just a "Saffron"-type con artist, the character took her "parts" a little too seriously. She almost truly believed she was a Shepherd and a Doctor. In fact, she was neither. So sticking with her complication despite both her "identities" insisting she treat the two KFA's was a seriously well thought out and impressively in-character decision. And she played it very, very entertainingly.
They also missed out on the information that Jahn Luhn Gohn was hidden in the scrap yard when they didn't follow up with the disk. Naturally, I didn't tell them. And, lo and behold, Betty really did just happen to walk right past it while sneaking around, even though it was well out of the way. I had her role a Hard Alertness/Perception check (which she luckily decided out of the blue to drop a couple of Plot Points on) and viola, Betty notices the ship's apparent damage is almost all faked. She figures out it might just be Jahn, rubs the dirt off the nameplate and just like that they finally meet Jahn.
Like I said, I never know what they're going to do.
The PC's decision to sabotage the Well-Dressed Man's vehicle and those of his thugs was completely unprompted. Which is good because their getting trapped inside Jahn was also. Things would have been very dicey for them if the bad guys had gotten away with the stash.
The event with Patience waving the Well-Dressed Man was, however, planned. In case they searched the vehicles and found the portable cortex terminal, I figured it would be interesting to see how they reacted to speaking to her and what effect their interaction would have on the episode. As it happens, being trapped inside Jahn, they played it very smart and took advantage of her lack of contact with the WDM to flat out lie to her and pretend they had the platinum. Lily was doing very well bluffing Patience but rolled badly at the end and decided not to spend Plot Points on it. If she had, and succeeding in negotiating for Gabriel's release on their terms, the episode would have likely gone very differently. As it happened it worked out more or less like I'd planned anyway since they sabotaged WDM's vehicles. Still, it was blind luck.
When the PC's discussed the possibility of just keeping the platinum and taking Jahn I was sort of mentally slapping myself in the forehead. It may sound stupid but I honestly didn't consider that they wouldn't rescue Gabriel, their dad's old friend. That really would have been fine and likely saved them a whole lot of trouble, but it would have trash canned both my next two episodes and taken them straight into the black. No tar-and-feathering, no Red Rock Reaver raid rescue, no encounter with the gang of troublesome passengers I'd cooked up.
Now, I had Jahn with empty fuel tanks but had no doubts that my players would be able to come up with a reasonable way around that minor obstacle, given the motivation of finally taking possession of Jahn. That was a really big deal for them. Naturally, I was more than relieved when they decided it would be far more interesting to go ahead with arranging for Gabriel's release. Also, because they had forgotten about the disk, they were still curious about their father's past as a ship's captain and had already guessed there were details there that had bearing on the campaign. Consequently, Gabriel "Rooster" was their only link to that.
Patience's reference to Mal and Zoe causing trouble and sullying her reputation "last week" more or less nudged the players with a reminder of the timeline. I wanted them to know the current events were taking place soon after the crew of Serenity visited Whitefall. Furthermore, it would make a nice justification for Reavers appearing out of nowhere in the next episode and attacking from vehicles rather than from the sky. I figure the Reavers were the survivors of the inevitable crash of the Tran-U that had chased Serenity. Kaylee executes a full burn in atmo, knocks them out of the sky and the survivors haul their three vehicles out of the wreckage and set off looking for another ship. Naturally, this brings them to Red Rock as it's the only small town on Whitefall with it's own refueling station and an old scrap yard.
Episode Four: Out Of The Tarring Pot...
I have to say first off that I really didn't research tarring and feathering at all when I decided on this. By the time I did the players were already expecting it. Looking into it on the net, however, I discovered it wasn't at all what I thought. I was thinking more along the lines of the tarring and feathering that Dustin Hoffman suffered in "Little Big Man" (a movie I very highly recommend, by the way). Actual tarring and feathering, I discovered, is far more deadly. Even if it didn't kill you, being covered with boiling tar will at least scar you for life. And, honestly, I would have known that if I had actually considered it for a few seconds.
So I figured Patience wouldn't want to actually do that kind of damage either and would only be interested in making an example of them. In other words humiliating them. I changed the tar to a more vague "pitch" and went from there. Not that the players noticed or would have likely cared. GM's are anal about the oddest things, I guess.
It isn't made clear in the episode guide but the rocket that brought down the shuttle was fired by the Reavers. Since my players didn't ask, I didn't mention it. Needless to say, the players thoroughly enjoyed the idea of running from Reavers down the streets of Red Rock naked as tarred and feathered jaybirds.
I honestly expected the players to smell something fishy when the pilot of Patience's freighter offered them her father's entire (10,000+ credits) savings to get him out of Red Rock. They should have known there was no way I'd let them have than much money all at once, but I think they were actually excited at the prospect of sneaking through a Reaver raid and didn't give it serious thought. They do know me well enough to know that there was going to be some kind of plot twist at the other end of all this, of course. They didn't push the point with the pilot, though, and just ran with it.
The encounter outside the house, with the sounds of torture and the hiding child crying, did irritate them, though. They naturally wanted to rush in and rescue them but really couldn't without rousing the entire Reaver horde. When they dropped their first Reaver a moment later with little difficulty I do believe they got a little overconfident. When the two shotgun blasts to the head didn't drop the two Reavers in the house, and one of them managed to wound Lily pretty badly, I think they finally developed a healthy amount of fear. For the rest of their time in Red Rock, right up until their panicked retreat from town, they showed a remarkable ability to slip around out of sight. At one point they even had a ruler, using it to determine line of sight from this building or the other on our map of Red Rock. I honestly couldn't have tipped the Reavers off to their presence without fudging.
I had originally planned for the PC's to make a short "last stand" in the basement of the gambling house after finding that they'd been played by the pilot. I was prepared for them to break out, of course, since they were well aware the basement had windows, but I really thought there'd be some fighting. I had intended to use this as a means to introduce Constance Delphi and the Arrogant War Veteran, who'd clue the PC's in that a small crowd of Red Rock survivors were going to evacuate with them at the scrap yard. The PC's would then rendezvous with the freighter pilot, get screwed over by Lily's old grifter gang and then be able to link up with them in there. When the NPC's found their transport had been stolen the PC's would then have opportunity to offer (or even charge them for) transportation off world in Jahn.
Episode Five: ...And Into The Black
The first act of this episode I feared would convince the PC's not to take the NPC's onboard for their escape, especially considering the cramped quarters. Thankfully they're not quite ruthless enough to leave folks stranded with Reavers running about. A last minute attack by a handful of Reavers drove that point home and the PC's did take them on, even after the fistfight and the little girl nearly getting herself hurt in the shuttle.
This episode was very role-playing heavy, though there was significant skill usage and a couple of nice fistfights. The players really loved this episode because of all the interesting character interaction. Ally really liked giving Lily a chance to play host, especially finally getting to play Shepherd and give Sunday service. Mary and Johnny enjoyed butting heads with the Alliance War Vet and finally getting to flush him out the airlock.
And I was impressed over all at how well they covered their butts. After the Vet getting flushed, the Buddhist monk dying under Lily's care and the various threats by Marlin and Betty (all caught on Constance's video parrot) you would think they'd have legal trouble brewing soon. But they covered themselves well enough that the Alliance trouble I had planned for the next episode came off kind of weak, nothing more than a short delay (just enough, as it turns out).
All in the all the player's impressive interaction with their passengers really made the episode our first and probably only "Fireflyesque" episode of the campaign. By the time Jahn reached Persephone, the PC's were having definite second thoughts about keeping that passenger suite rather than converting it into an extension of the cargo area, though.
I let the players decide what kind of ship they wanted way back before the episode even started. The players had originally intended to go with a Firefly but soon got weary of that idea. When I showed them the Fast Courier ship Wydraz had come up with, and demonstrated just how quickly it could get from one planet to another compared to a Firefly (or anything else, for that matter), they jumped at it. The cozy layout and the ease of crewing it with only three PC's and one NPC really sold it and they fell in love with the ship by the end of the episode.
Episode Six: The Cat In The Hatch
This was the first of what was supposed to be about seven "Dr. Seuss" episodes involving the cloned sabre-tooth tiger. As it happens we were already discussing starting a new campaign and putting this one on the back burner. As you can tell over the rest of the campaign we kept deciding at the last minute to play just one more Jahn episode before quitting, though.
The premise of the cloned sabre-tooth was really almost too much for the Serenity setting but the players were kind enough to let me get away with it. I think I maybe enjoyed the "cat" motif a bit too much, though.
As noted before the players weren't especially impressed with Rooster, even though they made him their captain. In fact, the only reason they let the NPC be captain is so they'd have someone to blame if things got hot with the Alliance authorities later. And no one else wanted the job. By then I had already decided to let him die a noble death, if the PC's didn't spend Plot Points saving him or anything, and allow them to inherit full ownership of Jahn.
The players thought it was hilarious that our first use of the Random Cargo tables produced a load of hair care products paying only 15 credits for delivery. I was honestly going to fudge and roll up something different but they laughed it off and decided to stick with that. They thought it was great having their first and only cargo being so ridiculous (hair care products and a frozen tiger).
By the end of act one the players were just starting to get hints that things were not going to go smooth with their second set of passengers. They decided then to just eat their losses from sprucing up the passenger suite and go ahead with converting it into a secondary cargo bay. It was already clear that passengers were going to be a real hassle, despite the nice income. Later, when the first bit of action in the episode was breaking up a cat fight (cat motif, again) over dinner, it was clenched.
The Alliance patrol boat that boarded them was supposed to provide a significant delay. Long enough for the tiger to come out of cryo and the Alliance folks then (after realizing they'd delayed Jahn long enough to endanger the precious tiger) to hastily depart without bothering to pursue any of the minor criminal charges. Of course the PC's had managed to avoid most of the legal trouble I had anticipated, though. On top of that, Lily naturally charmed the officer thoroughly and had him eating out of her hand. I still decided to fudge a bit and stretch Lily's interrogation out a bit (four hours) to allow enough time for the cryo to time out.
When Lily's old grifter gang attacks the ship with an EMP, they players didn't get a chance to realize it was Lily's enemies at all. They really didn't even catch on that they were under attack until it was too late. I, meanwhile, didn't call attention to fact or drop any obvious hints and let them find out the hard way because I figured they'd discover it soon enough when they were boarded. Unfortunately Marlin and Lily both were knocked out early because they decided not to retreat out of range the gas grenades. Betty, too, ended up charging the airlock and getting ko'd, so all the players ever saw of their attackers were some gas masks and body armor.
Episode Seven: Pimp My Firefly
This was originally just a filler episode and I hadn't planned to run it at all, with the end of the campaign looming soon. Ally, though, noticed the title scrawled among my other meaningless scribbling and asked about it. When I laid out the basic premise (the crew is hired to steal and "trick out" a Firefly in order to fly around over a concert) she thought it was cool. Presently the players all wanted to go with it and so I hashed this one straight out of a barely sketched out idea. Seriously, the entire episode was nothing more than five or six lines of notes on a loose piece of scratch paper when it started. I hadn't prepared it at all and I was completely winging it the whole time.
It's rare for me to actually pull the wool over my player's eyes. They know me well enough to know I consider a plot twist and/or cliffhanger at the end of every episode to be somewhat mandatory, so I was very pleased with myself when they didn't see Chan Long's betrayal coming. I was also pleased Rooster managed to finally make himself useful, sort of, by flying Jahn down to the planet while the PC's handled the stolen Firefly.
The players really like this episode and had a very good time. Johnny and Ally (surprisingly) thoroughly enjoyed the brawl with the escaped Firefly crew toward the end. It really did run on rather long (and really did careen through a few different areas of the ship and down some stairs) and they barely managed to hold out until Betty and Rooster could come and save their bacon.
I, however, was a little disappointed with the episode personally. I really don't think I revealed the "Chan Long was working for Santo Kitty all along and that the whole mess had been set up" thing all that well for them. Still, they had no complaints so I'm sort of forced to begrudgingly count it a success. They were quite dismayed to be arrested and lose Jahn at the end, though. But I felt I was somewhat under the gun and had to hustle to put them under the thumb of the Alliance before we ended the campaign.
Episode Eight: I Can Lick Thirty Tigers Today
Here, I think, is when the campaign really jackknifed a bit. I warned the players right up front that things were going to be kind of rushed if I was going to try to get them to a decent stopping point, but they were fine with that. They each had some personal goals for their characters that they wanted to reach before cryo-freezing the campaign. Up until that point they had spent only a few Plot Points on character advancement, using them nearly as fast as they earned them within the episodes. The last four campaigns they used to gather enough advancement points to make some finishing touches before moving on.
My goals was to reveal the Yonsheng and their interest in the PC's, allow them access to the their genetic material, start the Operative's campaign of manipulation and get them free and clear to Whitefall all within three episodes. I was rather astounded that I pulled it off, even with the Swiss cheese plots I was spinning.
The interrogation of Lily by the Operative was played out with a short bit of in-character discussion between Ally and I. Even though I described the Operative to them they never really caught on who he was (because I never referred to him as "Operative") until he said "Do you know what you're sin is, Miss Sanchez?". Then, of course, the players tossed up their hands and called for a bio-break. Which means everyone gets up, stretches, gathers some snacks and makes plans on how to get out of the huge humping I'm about the lay on them. The PC's never could figure out what his interrogation of Lily was all about, though, and were kind of stymied when he simply disappeared for a week. Which was exactly what the Operative wanted.
Lily's sin was, for those interested, coveting. According to the Operative anyway, Lily coveted the decent, normal lives that other people had and so she stole them. Especially the role of Shepherd, which the Operative thought was quite revealing. The Operative believed he could control the entire group through his understanding of Lily's motivations, but of course that was going to blow up in his face later had the campaign run to it's completion.
I confirmed later that the player's saw the convenient shuttle crash as just what it was: the Operative using them as hunting dogs or bait. They didn't mind, though, since they really wanted to find out what Yonsheng was up to anyway. They really didn't like being stranded on Santo without identification or money, especially with their (empty) accounts frozen. I admit this sort of left them with practically no options and is just the kind of heavy-handed GM'ing I don't usually like.
They were also a bit disgusted to find that their characters weren't the blueprint for some superhuman breed that they assumed they were. Finding out they were more or less a group of rejects that Yonsheng had found a use for was both funny and disappointing for them. Having the Operative appear and remove the tracking device from Lily's neck really clenched it, though. I knew then that I had pushed them right where I had wanted them by this point. If the campaign had continued I'm sure they'd be highly motivated to screwing over both the Alliance and Yonsheng at the first opportunity. With the campaign ending early, though, it was pretty much wasted.
They grumbled a good bit at the end of this episode. Ah, well. You can't be the perfect GM all the time.
Episode Nine: I Had Trouble In Getting To Bernadette's Moon
Now this episode and the one that follows ended the campaign on a great note, I think. The players absolutely loved both of them. My only dissatisfaction is that I never gave the players a decent opportunity to find out why Captain Sarian had gone off the deep end or exactly what his plan was involving the Reavers, so there was a bit of non-resolution there.
The entire episode takes place on the Alliance patrol boat Hampton, using the patrol boats straight from the book. I did increase the crew compliment quite a bit by adding in a larger security attachment (and a detention area), though, or the Reavers would have overrun the ship far too quickly.
The only bad spot in either episode was the one that occurred right at the beginning of this one. Two sadistic security officers make sport of Marlin when they find out who he is (the "coward" of Serenity Valley). Betty surprised me by attempting to draw attention away from him and to herself in order to spare her brother. This led to a bit of bad blood between me and Mary which, thankfully, was resolved after the episode. But, that's a tale for another day. Suffice it to say that I screwed up big time and Mary was on the receiving end of some serious kow-towing later.
In retrospect I really should have let Betty spend some Plot Points and beat the fear of God into those two, but I was a little too focused on getting them out of the situation I had created. Besides, I already had the Security Chief on hand to rescue them anyway. I'm considering telling this tale in detail here on the website as a very good example of what not to do as a GM.
Lily's conversion of the Buddhist Security Chief and two other security officers was real and was truly something to see. She earned some serious Plot Points with this one, let me tell you. Even if she did spend a good bit pulling it off. Her skills and attributes may be decent enough but she was rolling some absolutely awesome numbers for a good long while. She started off just trying to get in the Chief's good graces and reestablish their acquaintance. After a couple of eyebrow-raising rolls, she just went with it and spent the couple of minutes rolling dice and delivering some very impressive bible-thumping to the NPC's. In the end we were all kind of amazed.
Lily is just an awesome roleplayer. And outrageously lucky at the oddest times. Simple as that.
Of course this is the episode where Rooster finally gets himself killed. Lily really was out of Plot Points and I must say I didn't mind any more than the players did. He was starting to get on my nerves, too. The PC's were decent enough to take the corpse with them, though very inconvenient, to bury their uncle's old friend back on Whitefall.
Episode Ten: The Cat In The Hatch Comes Back
I knew when I introduced the sabre-tooth that either the players would eventually use it as a weapon or they themselves would end up fighting it. After all, that's why I had a sabre-tooth in there rather than a rare prehistoric plant or something. I really didn't expect that Ally would have her character spend Plot Points to dig up some Methamphetines and dope it up before letting it lose on Reavers, though.
I really had to study the numbers a bit before deciding that, yes, the tiger would probably rip through them quite nicely in such a state.
Now the players already figured it was Reavers they had come into conflict with when they saw the ship through the bridge windows. The Alliance folks, of course, didn't. As you can tell from their mad sprint directly for the medical ward once they got themselves loose, they already had a plan and had picked a spot to make a stand against the Reavers.
The reason they didn't just dash for escape pods or, better, try to grab an ASREV or such is because they knew this was the last episode of the campaign. Traditionally the players will go down fighting at the end of an aborted campaign. There's been only three times that they actually left their characters alive and well in case they wanted to pick up again later. At the last minute they decided to end the campaign in a blaze of glory. You'll notice also that they saved that last grenade and Marlin had it in hand when they went looking for the tiger. That was because, while they didn't mind their characters dying in battle with Reavers, they were damned sure not going to let them get eaten or raped to death. Hence, the grenade.
It wasn't until after Ally's meth-junkie tiger chewed through half the horde that they decided to make a play at getting free. Now that they are "safely" on Whitefall in the tender hands of Patience Payne and company, the campaign can theoretically pick up where it left off some day.
- Leave us a note!
- Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
- Star Trek (Decipher)
- Our Atomic Highway Campaigns
- Our D&D Campaigns
- Our Cortex: BSG Campaigns
- Our Cortex: Serenity Campaigns
- Cortex: Supernatural campaigns
- Our Cortex: Homebrews
- Our D20 Modern Campaigns
- Atomic Highway resources
- D&D Resources
- Cortex: BSG Resources
- Cortex: Serenity Resources
- Cortex: Supernatural Resources
- Cortex: Homebrew Resources
- Cortex: Homebrew Campaigns and Settings
- Cortex Adventures