We are in the final episodes of the setting build we have done. We wanted to touch on a few more topics before we put this season in the history books. So a starting adventure is a big deal. It is supposed to give a general feel for what the setting is supposed to do. Well at least the biggest and most broad strokes. It can also be a springboard for more ideas that will hopefully lead to a campaign that you and your friends will have fun playing for a long time to come.
So the things we think about are the big themes we are wanting to start with. Some of them are very big concepts and as such we need to lay the groundwork early for them. A thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to bring all the themes into a game. Focus on just one for now, Are we going to go with Isolation or something else?
We need to have just a few locations for the adventure, like 4 or 5 areas. If you keep it tight then you can dive into the people that populate the areas. Not every area will or should have people. This is a massive ship that is seeing its decline. Sometimes the environment should be its own character. Those spaces should feel unique and not like the rest of the areas.
An opening adventure would whet the appetite of the players and introduce major parts of a campaign world that will come around in the main campaign. There is no need to try to make the first game, or introductory module, connect to a larger campaign, save having it reflect things that may be more universal in the game itself.
For my part, I want to introduce several biomes of the Eden ship, requiring players to go to at least one area they have not been, introduce at least two factions on the Eden Ship, preferably not directly tied to the biomes involved, and have at least one dangling mystery by the time it is done. This last piece could be the springboard to a new adventure, the start of a campaign, or a recurring gag but something won’t be fully tied up in a neat bow by the time I am done.
My plan would be to introduce a quick adventure or plot revolving around unexplained power usage that is messing up the balance of the Eden ship’s systems. Command is understandably perturbed that plans are not going off as intended, but who is benefiting from it? This leads to the possibility of a smuggling ring from the old chunks of the ship through to the Engineering section. An experiment has gone a little off the rails, so they needed extra supplies.
This framework means I can introduce politics in the command structure, exploration in ferreting out the smuggling ring or the Engineering stores, and combat because somebody will throw a punch somewhere along the way. The themes of resource management and scarcity drive this plot but the balance of power on the Eden ship is what really shapes it.
Getting started, especially when you already have an environment so dense can be tricky. Before just picking a starting point, see what your players are playing. Are they a mix of tech and muscle? Maybe an away mission or an investigation to a part of the ship that has lost communication with the greater whole. Are they mostly muscle, maybe have them serve as an escort to the ambassador to a newly discovered race? Science heavy? How bout working to decrypt some new data or stop an alien tech virus incursion.
The biggest thing is to give them an adventure. Something tough, for sure, but fun for the players (could be a right nightmare for their characters). The post apocalypse has to be hard for the people that live in it, not the players who play in that world. Losing all the time isn’t fun. Remember that not all victories have to be total victories. Your shuttle could get away from that asteroid field, but you lose some vital materials or data in the process. You could successfully fight off that incursion, but no one noticed that wee bug that was left behind.
Remember that you can’t lose all the time and your victories don’t have to be perfect but they have to strike that balance. We won, but what’s that shoe, and when is it gonna drop.
Zendead – Dracula the Netflix Series is really neat and full of cool ideas.
Joules – Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman.
Guard-a-Manger – Rachmaninoff, The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. The 18th Variation is the most famous or at least most frequently listened to part of Rachmaninoff’s work. Take some time to put on headphones, or a fantastic home sound system, shut off outside distractions and notifications, and lose yourself in a work of classical music. Jot down anything you want when you are done, but make that length of time sacrosanct and focused as best you can.
Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae
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