Sunday, January 27, 2013

Death of a Campaign

Redshirts died this week.

The Stars Without Numbers campaign had a pretty good run.  I had designed it as an FLGS episodic drop-in pick-up game with a cast of freeze dried, replaceable PCs scouting the unknown horrors of my mind.  It morphed into something quite different.

The first oddity was PEOPLE KEPT ON COMING.  I finally had to cap the game at nine players.  That's enough people in a room yelling at me.

Second, instead of a pick-up game, our schedule became very specifically timed, rotating around the players INSTEAD of me.

Third - we were kicked out of the FLGS by the Chess Club.

Instead, we played every week at Merwyn's house.  He has a large table.  That table wasn't quite big enough so another table had to be attached.  Something like a kiddie table at Thanksgiving.

So what the hell happened - you ask.

Well, I read Kevin Crawford's Stars Without Number supplement Scavenger Fleets.  It's a great, free supplement detailing the bands of nomadic star-farers who dig through the trash of the previous civilization.

I got to thinking - what if one of these Scavenger Fleets got too big for its britches?  What if they stopped just scavenging dead planets, and began to *harvest* living ones.

Thus, the RECTIFIERS were born.  The Rectifier Fleet was comprised of 70+ ships, their tech level passed any in the area, and their habit of implanting all of their 'recruits' with wi-fi brain pain technology made their sufficiently Borg like to scare anyone who met them.

I figured I had a pretty good bag of villains to harass the freeze-dried scouts.

The Redshirts were passing through a system they used 'space highway' when they stumbled on the fleet.  Sensors indicated that the sleepy little planet they knew as Tunguska was being invaded, and the gas giants in the area were under lock-down.

I figured . . . well - you know what happens.  A DM goes through every thing they could think that would happen and plans accordingly.  Players always figure a way around all of that, though.

I made it clear that these dudes were billy-bad-asses and not to be messed with.  The mission was clear - find a way to refuel, jump the hell away, and warn the boys back home.  Since the CO position was being filled by Crazy-Ass Tim who was playing Professor Ramaputi - a guy who dislikes violence and wants to SCIENCE everything - I figured we were in for some interesting stealth operations.

Yeah, right.

They see a Rectifier Frigate nearby, but are cloaking really well, so it doesn't see them.  Rather than GTFO, they teleport a mirror outside of the ship and start bouncing LIDAR communications off of it, taunting the Frigate.

It went downhill from there.

It their little stealth shuttle they . . . they attacked the frigate.  They had pulled off ship assaults before.  Two - if I remember correctly.  But those assaults had always been against ships with much crappier tech.

Most of the PCs got to the hull of the Rectifier Frigate, while Ramaputi and two psychics did a halfway planned, halfway accidental maneuver where they simultaneously rammed the shuttle into the Frigate at full speed and smashed the hull with Telekenetic Ram.  At the same time, Merwyn's character faked out the ship's AI and nabbed controlled of the jump drive and maneuvering systems.

They blew a hole into the Frigate.  Nice going, yes.  But the other ships in the area were closing fast.  The crew of the Frigate was still alive and not in a great mood, however.

Meryn decided that, since he was in control of the jump drives - that they should jump the Frigate to another star system and deal with the crew later.  However, after a few minutes of paper-shuffling - it became horrible apparent that not a single member of the party had the Navigation skill to jump the ship.

At that point, Merwyn decided to accelerate to ramming speed and slam the Frigate into the nearest Cruiser.


The party found life pods to evacuate.  However, they were easily picked up by the Rectifiers.


Rather than role-play their lives as mind-slaves of the Rectifier Fleet, we decided to leave it there and let the Redshirts campaign sail off into the horizon, smoke billowing from the water-borne funeral pyre.

I would guess that the following events would happen:

  1. Capture.
  2. Torture.
  3. Integration.
  4. And then the Rectifier Fleet - with full knowledge of the Aquila Union now, would commence an invasion and the player characters would be a party to the destruction of their own civilization.

Good times, good times.

The Boy, however, is currently writing a story in which the characters escape the Rectifiers and everybody wins.  I am eagerly waiting to read that story, since it sounds a heck of a lot more upbeat then what I charted out above.

So, I salute the nine players of the Redshirts campaign for valiantly putting up with all of the horrific things that I threw at their poor, ill-equipped characters - and for the most part surviving.    But the campaign was named Redshirts - so it was really just a matter of time. :)

- Ark


  1. I've enjoyed the Redshirts Campaign posts. Live long and prosper!

    1. Brutorz - Thanks. It was a kind of surprising end - but fitting. I'll try to keep up with the Traveller posts - but I'm already a couple behind and I need to hustle. :)

      - Ark

  2. I, too, enjoyed reading about the exploits of this crew. Hope the Traveller campaign is as entertaining!

    1. Dave - WIt's been really entertaining for me. I'll try to translate that into print. :)

      - Ark

  3. Fair warning that this post is both honest and snarky. Bare in my I do really like your blog and was following the Redshirts posts with some interest.

    I have to say I never got into the Redshirts idea all the way, likely because I'm such a huge Star Trek fan and it was hard for me to 'see it'. It wasn't Star Trek, nor a parody of Star Trek, yet it was called Redshirts...couldn't wrap my head around it.

    I did enjoy the posts though. This unfortunate. I am sorry to see the game go before I grew to truly like what you guys were doing.

    Maybe one of the reasons I always GM and never play is it's really difficult for me to do things that make absolutely no sense within the confines of a game setting and story. That seems to be a key player quality I can not easily emulate. ;)

    I am very much looking forward to Traveller as I am starting a Traveller campaign myself in a week or two. Can't wait to see what happens with yours.

  4. BA, The core concept of the game was that there were these expendable scouts being sent off to scavenge high tech devices from other post-apocalyptic worlds. I think I described it like this to one of our gaming group:

    "Dude, it's like 1st level D&D, but in space, except that you have a military commander throwing you into the dungeon without any say. You know, like those red shirts on Star Trek."

    And with that, any hopes I had of coming up with an accurate name for the campaign were over, because that is all that anyone ever called it. I didn't fight it, and found the name handy since people IMMEDIATELY got the concept, even people who never watched an episode of Star Trek in their lives.

    So - the name was just a tool. There was never any intention of a grand story or character development or any of that. It was supposed to be a slaughter-fest, and for the most part it was.

    Interestingly, playing that way for several months, I've shaken the 'MUST KILL ALL MY FRIENDS' desires out of my brain and am much more interested in some deeper stories, more richly woven characters, and a 'role' playing experience. The Traveller campaign is so far fitting the bill.

    But give it a few months and I'll get the desire to chase my friends with a space dragon again and kill them all. :)

    I too have a hard time 'playing' in a game that doesn't make sense. I mean, why would an elf ranger ever - EVER - go into a dungeon unless the fate of the world depended on it? And even then - it would be iffy. So yeah, I get you - and I have a tendency to try to grab the reigns from DMs and forge my own stories.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your Traveller camping as well.

    Snark on, Garth . . .

    - Ark

  5. Hey! Who turned out the lights?

    Hey! Who turned out... lights?

    Hey! Lights! Lights! Lights!



    llllll Liggggghtsssss