Sunday, January 13, 2013

Campaign Fanfic

All Traveller nobles shop for clothes in Austria, circa 1854.
In the past, I've written a lot of what I call Interludes - short little fiction pieces that showed events between gaming sessions.  I like to get inside the PCs' imaginary little heads and have them talk and act exactly the way their players would have them act.  It takes time to understand the characters, and portray them properly.

The high body count style of play we've been going with over the past two years is rather counter-productive to writing in-depth, character-based fiction.  Characters tend to be archetypal, and even if they are interesting - it's hard to imagine they'll last for more than a few more game session.

However, we are about to embark on a Traveller campaign - and the life path character creation system spits out wonderfully developed character histories.  Add to it that over half the players involved would be just as happy to see no combat at all and, well, these guys are just screaming out for PROSE.

For instance, the character that Crazy-Ass Tim is playing - Marquis Elais de Sainte-Maire, is an upper class dilettante, spoiled and useless beyond all recognition.  But he's found himself in a state where he has lots of enemies and not enough cash to maintain his lifestyle.  The other players so far ended up as gritty policemen or ex-soldiers.  Scratching my head, I wondered how these guys would even meet, much less adventure together.  After some character motivation discussions with the players, a scene popped into my head between the black Sheep Elias and his uncle - who manages Elias' father's household.

* * *

Uncle Dietfried tossed the bag at Elias' feet.  The crimson stained canvas landed with a wet slap on the white carpet.  Something was in the bag - something about the size of a head.

"That's the third one this year," Dietfried, dressed in a crisp uniform with golden epaulets, motioned to the bag.  "She's not going to run out of money or people."

Marquis Elias wanted to back away from the bag, but simply stared wide-eyed at it as the the red stain in the white carpet seeped from where the bag had landed.  "Um . .  thanks."

Dietfried grunted.  "I won't have you embarrassing your father any more with this.  It's time you take that ill-gotten title and go find your fortune elsewhere."

Elias looked up from the bag.  "I'll need some seed money."

"You had seed money last year.  And the year before.  And the year before that," the uniformed man barked.  "Go to the space port.  You can get credit for a starcraft on your name alone.  Take it and leave.  Go to the capital and sponge off those friends of yours."

"A loan?" Elias looked as if a bad smell had entered the room.

"Yes.  A loan.  That you have to pay back.  Like in the real world."

Elias looked confused, then outstretched his hands with a boyish smile.  He was, however, far from a child.  The Marquis had seen at least four decades.

"Uncle . . uncle, there has been a misunderstanding.  I . . ."

"No.  You understand me perfectly clear.  Leave, or your father will learn certain little known things about you . . ."

Elias' face grew harsh and he tilted his head angrily, but Dietfried continued.

" . . . certain little things about you that he'll find out if I tell him, or if I should mysteriously die, will be told to him by a program that scans the newspapers for word of my demise."

Elias gasped and touched his chest.  "Uncle!  You wound me."

"I will if need be," Diefreid stared icily at his nephew, his hand on the hilt of the sword at his side. "Your father's position is too important to be compromised by your lack of judgment."

Elias looked down at the bag and sighed.  "It's not my fault."

"It never is," Dietfried grumbled, took a breath, then sighed.  His eyes softened.  "Don't forget, she's still a tad cranky and will remain so for a long, long time.  You are going to need some hired guns as bodyguards.  Ex-soldiers are good, but ex-law enforcement know better what they can get away with legally.  And when you've finished drowning your sorrows with those wastrels at the capital, you should probably go check into that fief the Emperor awarded you.  You've never paid any attention to it, and it's barely turning a profit.  I hear that Sainte-Marie is nice this time of year anyway."

"Very well, Uncle."  Elias said coldly, snapping to attention.  "I'll be off."  He turned to go, but stopped and glanced back.

"Christmas at Rouge Et Noir?"

"Of course," his uncle nodded curtly.  "Your aunt would lapse into hysterics if you missed Christmas dinner.  Idiot boy.  And come back with a good story - a story of entrepreneurship and profit to tell your father."

"Yes Uncle," Elias walked out, but didn't let the smirk show until he was long out of camera range.

* * *

It seems to fit the bill.  So, anyway, the players should be expecting a lot more fiction from me in the coming weeks. :)

- Ark

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I also love how Traveller seems to make such wide ranging character possibilities seem perfectly normally.

    My Traveller campaigns have always seen PC groups consisting of characters from backgrounds so far apart its often a wonder they exist in the same galaxy. At the same time, that's very much Traveller to me. It's the Science Fiction universe that all other Science Fiction universes find a place to bed down it.