Monday, October 28, 2013

A Considerable Threat

It's been a strange month.

What with it being October, Halloween and all, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

In my real life, business has gone from 'Crappy Summer' to 'Awesomely Busy Fall' and that's good news for me. I may be tired but at least I don't have to worry as much about bills, food, etc.

Posts were light this month, views were up, comments down and the focus a bit unfocused as far as I'm concerned. I did get the chance to talk about my two mainstay campaigns, Traveller and Pendragon, but not enough. A host of other ideas I've shared have gone unfinished, while others were not shared at all.

'Scuse me whilst I reflect upon this.


Next month is November and with that comes Thanksgiving, the National Game Design Month event (NaGaDeMon), a continually busy work schedule and very possibly the end of one or both of my campaigns.


My player Marcus, in addition to being a consummate pain in the tail region, has managed to get himself and several of the other players into serious trouble. IN BOTH GAMES! Now that's some mad Player Skill at work, don't you think?


In Traveller, he and a few others who have decided to go with him, are heading to an uncharted star system in order to claim it and the right to own it. There are numerous obstacles and problems with his plan, not the least of which is time and competition. And the fact that he really has no plan.

And that's just the problems he knows about.


In Pendragon, he pissed off a Knight who had come to the court of the dukedom the PCs are in to ask if the Duke knew of a young girl who had been taken from a village under said Knight's country's care. The NPCs sought to stall the Knight and make him lose his cool. That way, they and the PCs would be in the right to do something about him. If he didn't lose his cool, they would feign ignorance of the matter and he would simply leave. The young woman in question is one of the PCs actually and she left voluntarily when King Arthur himself sent her a letter and asked to meet with her.

During the exchanges between the Knight, the good Duke, his Chancellor (all NPCs) and one or two of the PCs, the Knight made an inquiry of Ray's character Sir Henry. Marcus indicated that he would like to say something to defend Sir Henry or divert the conversation. Ray said sure, and Marcus proceeded to accuse and embarrass the Knight in front of everyone, taking on an antagonistic approach that may now plunge us into war.

Ray managed to interject just after Marcus finished talking at court and did so with flying colors. As the Knight readied a retaliatory volley of words, Ray took complete control of the conversation and told the Knight in no uncertain terms that this audience was over. You lose. Good day to you sir. I said Good Day!

Wait now, Marcus wasn't done...

Marcus decided to accompany the group of soldiers, mostly Irish mercenaries, who were told to escort the Knight and his entourage out of the kingdom. The escort also included Hans' character and an NPC mercenary he (She. Shhhh.) had befriended. Just as they reached the gates of the city, Marcus pulled the Knight aside and apologized to him in a whispered exchange. In that exchange he also set in motion a situation which could easily destroy the entire troupe of PCs and the goal of why they were in the region in the first place.


Yes. In the span of an hour or two of the second session of Pendragon we have had, Marcus managed to create an almost no win scenario.

Why? How? Screw how, WHY?

Because Marcus isn't having fun unless it's about Marcus. He has to be the one with the clever plan, be the smooth talker, the guy who gets the right people on his side while he pulls the wool over the eyes of the people who he doesn't like or who are against him.

The problems with this?
  1. He doesn't take the motivations and personalities of his enemies into account.
  2. He doesn't consult or consider any other member of the team when pulling these stunts.
  3. He wants to be the consummate con man but his words and actions make everyone distrust him.
  4. He doesn't consider that there could be factors at work he doesn't know about yet.

In the Traveller campaign, if death is in the team's future, it will only be for those who go with Marcus and Marcus himself. I know Will's and Ray's characters will not be joining his mission. This campaign can easily live on with other characters.

In Pendragon, only one player has any idea of the real threat potential. The threat Marcus has created could, very likely, result in a TPK. My first ever I believe. If that occurs, I think I will lay off fantasy again for a good long while.

I am at the edge of my seat.

Barking Alien


  1. Don't give up on fantasy just because of one player, trust in the rest of the team and see how they manage a no win scenario. If they're really as clever as all that maybe they'll find a way through.

  2. Maybe.

    The thing of it is, there is a type of fantasy I like and most fantasy isn't it. Pendragon is.

    Of the five players I have for Pendragon, only one or two seem to get it so far.

    My normally clever players, and I have a few, are in danger of being done in by my foolhardy one. This isn't the first time I've attempted fantasy with this group (well, that's not exactly true. Will, Hans and Andy weren't part of my previous attempts). It may simply be that my kind of fantasy and theirs doesn't gel.

    We will have to see how it pans out.

    Thanks for stopping by Unknown. ;)

  3. My players in a fantasy campaign are very... chaotic, with actions that can be qualified as irrational, some times not heroic at all, and some times truly a deathwish. And they give me a headache dealing with adventure plots but... they have fun that way because everybody is on same plan. One man trying a one man show is always a pain.

    If i was you i would try a scenery where the rest of the party have the chance to leave the fool to his own doom. And then celebrate with an evil laugh!! muejejejeje (it is on spanish).

  4. I like that laugh. It's classy.

    The situation is such that while this one player is the embodiment of the one man show (good name for it Martim. Thanks) and certainly the most sneaky and least heroic member of our little group, none of the players (save one perhaps) are particularly inclined toward teamwork. They do not trust each other once we sit down to the table and start to play.

    Not only is this a pain in the tuchus, but it is a very alien environment for me to GM in. I am not used to it. For so long, so many of my groups were all-for-one-and-one-for-all types who were practically family.

  5. One wonders why you play with Marcus at all.

  6. P.S. Which version of Traveller do you use? And which edition of King Arthur Pendragon?

  7. Classic Traveller from 1979 with a few houserules that, for the most part, are not really 'houserules' at all. Rather, I have adopted and adapted elements of MegaTraveller and Traveller 5 when I felt they worked better or added color.

    For Pendragon we are using 4th Edition so that PC Magicians and a larger array of nationalities would be available. A few minor house rules make the magic less overty powerful but more versatile and thematic.

    1. Older sister's then-boyfriend gave me the boxed set way back when. No idea what happenes to it...wish I still had it. Recently acquired the hardcover "Traveller Book" encompassing it very nice, via a trade, and got a softcover that reprints books 0 thru 8. Hoping to start a game soon.

  8. I've got to admit, I want to hear how the Pendragon situation pans out... You've got the opportunity for a truly epic story there (if not the one you were planning). Marcus seems to not want the war, but he's going to have to jump through hoops to get that knight to accept his apology (at the very least the apology needs to be public!). I can see the beginnings of a very Arthurian quest, assuming all concerned run with it. Alternatively, if you want a more Fae set-up, may be the impending war threatens something hidden and mystical between the involved realms - again, a good basis for a knightly-quest.

  9. Glad things are going smoother.

    Happy Oogie Boogie Day


  10. Well you can't say it's boring! It appears you have a Class 1 Instigator at the table!

    I know Pendragon gives him a lot to push against but I wonder if it's the best game for this kind of player. There's a lot of build-up-over-time in Pendragon, especially relationship stuff, and that's easily wrecked by careless behavior. It seems like a more traditional D&D style game of "adventuring" action might be a better fit.

    Also, mechanically, I find games with a hero point mechanic have a built-in way to cushion the blow from reckless reactions. Have you tried M&M with this group? I don't remember old-school Traveller and Pendragon being particularly forgiving in this way. That kind of option can help avoid the TPK you see forming on the horizon.

    1. One of the reasons I went with these two game choices is because I have generally been too forgiving. I wanted a mix of my story heavy, character driven approach and old school if-you-are-stupid-you-die mechanics.

      In Traveller, this players recklessness makes for interesting campaign faire. Honestly, though occasionally frustrating, I am absolutely loving it.

      In Pendragon, it goes beyond reckless into nearly antagonistic. That I don't appreciate and I personally don't enjoy it.