Welcome back to Part 3 of this series. Today we are going to be talking about the Major Beats of the campaign story. A good way to think about story beats is to remember they are kind of like encounters. Though you can surely make a story beat so large that it becomes an adventure in its own right.
These beats are often the turning points for parts of the campaign arcs. In a movie, this may be when the protagonists run into one of the bosses Lieutenants or the boss fights in a video game. The pivotal moments that are certainly a climax and culmination of several sessions of work.
What’s in the Basement? (Search For Truth)
In trying to uncover information that is locked away in the Smithsonian’s more protected data stores, there is a moment of truth that the characters must navigate. This is a major combat set piece as whatever forces are arrayed against the interests of the characters are racing to stop them from accessing this information. I see the slow burn across several sessions culminating in a session-long encounter as the characters have to extricate themselves with some amount of the information they need from the Smithsonian while being chased and fought by either rivals that have populated the game already or nameless and faceless Librarian Shock Troopers.
Somebody’s Going to Emergency; Somebody’s Going to Jail (Hope Doesn’t Come Free)
The Arkship isn’t without it’s dangers. The characters will have to make a choice, or influence the decision, on what to do. When the Arkship cannot be diverted and is staged to pass too close to settlements, something has to be done. The wash of the engines will wreck the area for habitability for decades to come, but what or who is aboard the ship. It is a classic no-win situation where the characters have to weigh what they know and what they value to determine if the Polis will try to evacuate its citizens about to lose their home or destroy the Arkship that holds unknown knowledge of the past if not people still alive and helpless as well.
Zendead’s Story Beats
Who is the Power
Sure the Senate is a Democratic force but are they the true power? Or are they just the puppet front for the Multiplanetary Conglomerate’s? Well maybe not even that small. What if the Elpis coming back was a larger play on the galactic scale? How deep can you go to find the truth? The leader of the Senate has his hand in planetary control and development. But that is small potatoes when you are the pawn of an invading galactic empire.
The Beauty is the Eye of the Beholder
The true beauty of Earth’s nature landscapes have been lost to time. As well the digital backups in the Smithsonian. Are they lost or have they just become unindexed. That is when you must dive into the digital domain of the Smithsonian to find the answers. What else do you find while in the system? The beauty of a digital environment is something each person finds out for themselves.
Joules’ Story Beats
There are Two Truths (Search for the Truth)
The lies are beginning to unravel and the party has come across a lead that will finally shine light. Upon arrival at the archive, the party comes across raw evidence. And depending on each member’s discipline, the evidence can be interpreted in directly oppositional ways. There’s no right or wrong here. There is only the data. So what does the party do? Do they spin the data? Release it in Raw Form? Destroy it? Have they considered the impact of all of their decisions? And are they willing to deal with the fallout?
Fear is freedom. Subjugation is liberation. Contradiction is truth., (Hope doesn’t come free)
Would you be willing to destroy a “utopia” to offer “hope?” The populace is under some kind of double-think, and setting them free would cause a society collapse. The freedom fighters, who have been striving tirelessly to liberate their people are made aware of the far reaching consequences. Do you give hope to the clearheaded members of society, and doom the brainwashed masses to panic and death? Would you be willing to abandon your drive, your goal, your principles and allow a tyrannical government to remain, if it means saving billions of people? Would you be comfortable being seen as a villain to do the heroic thing.
Here is a pic I did of a Captain Reed
Hope you enjoy it.
Kodikas the Muse
In antiquity there were nine muses. They inspired great works and their presence is felt strongly this very day. And as humanity evolved and advanced, their creativity grew. New ways, unimaginable ways of expression began to develop, and the number of muses increased. And it’s only been in the past forty years or so, that Kodikas has made her presence known.
The youngest of the “New Muses,” Kodikas is frequently invoked by artists and engineers, white hats and bug hunters, makers and indie developers. The muse of code has inspired solutions to memory leaks. Whispered asset hacks to save precious space. She is credited with inspiring the idea of object oriented programming, though she has kept mum about it. Kodikas’s whispers are the perfect fusion of art and science. So when code is both functional and elegant, the wise code monkey offers thanks, and a cup of coffee, to Kodikas.
How to Use Kodikas in Game:
Kodikas can be used as a Deus ex Machina device. Stuck hacker? Data analysis keeps failing? Kodikas can be used as device to push the plot forward, and your party now owes a god a boon.
Mass Bibliotecha Militum
Warfare evolves. It isn’t enough to be tough, smart, and well equipped anymore. Computers revolutionized the practice of warfare creating new theatres of conflict and remarkable first strike capabilities. But then, even information itself was weaponized. It isn’t just the fact that the Mass Bibliotecha Militum can hack your ship while preparing a proper shock and awe boarding action, it is the way that they can use an idea against you.
You already know that the equipment, weapons, and armor they sport with their telltale dashed and dotted motif will be of the highest caliber. You already know that there is little you can do if you are being tracked – they are not called the Librarian Shock Troops without a reason: They Will Know You. This is known. It is the legends that frighten you. The stories that can’t be true.
There isn’t a way to strike madness into a person through a com signal alone . . . right?
Your past can’t be ripped away from the world with a single whispered phrase …. Right?
The idea of your own defeat really is your own …. Right.
How to Use Mass Bibliotecha Militum in Game:
Specialized shock troops are always a good worldbuilding exercise when in a game with combat. The MBM are a classic example but in an RPG how much does their own mythology actually work? Is there an experimental weapon or gear that gives rise to those stories, or perhaps they do have access to abilities beyond the ken of your understanding.
Panglossian adjective Pan·gloss·ian | \ pan-ˈglä-sē-ən , paŋ-, -ˈglȯ- \
Definition of Panglossian
: marked by the view that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds : excessively optimistic
First Known Use of Panglossian
1831, in the meaning defined above
History and Etymology for Panglossian
Panglossian, “extremely optimistic, especially in the face of unrelieved hardship or adversity,” comes from Dr. Pangloss (Panglosse in French), an old, incurably optimistic tutor in Voltaire’s philosophical satire Candide. Pangloss comes from Greek panglossía “garrulousness, wordiness,” which also may suggest a certain amount of glibness. Candide, the name of the eponymous hero, comes from Latin candidus “bright, shining, pure, clean, good-natured, innocent,” perhaps also a comment on the hero’s naiveté. Panglossian entered English in the first half of the 19th century.
Zendead – X-Files I just started rewatching the fun that is the X-Files. It has its moments
of WTF Mate. But it is super enjoyable still.
Joules – Kill la Kill. It’s an incredible anime. Sentient clothing, epic battles, and scissors sword fights. It’s funny, but has a lot of really awesome subtle references that you may miss on your 1st watch through, but you notice a lot on the 2nd viewing.
Guard-a-Manger – Outbreak. 1995. A 2 hour movie starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman, and a sudden and virulent disease outbreak when a smuggled monkey escapes customs. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? Loosely based on the real world events recounted in The Hot Zone (the first book I read about viral hemorrhagic fevers and pandemic level disasters).
Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae
Author Pages with all of our contact info