Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Opening Up A Jar of Pickles

This past Sunday, one of my gaming groups came over to play an RPG. In addition to the regular three players - Dave, Jeff, and Marcus - my girlfriend joined for what was only her second gaming session ever.*

What did we play?

As I noted in an earlier post, I'd decided I wanted to run a campaign set in the universe of the Seth MacFarlane TV series, 'The Orville', using the rules for Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius Games. I've talked about my love of this show, and my idea of gaming in its milieu before...

Slippin', Slippin', Slippin' Into The Future

We Need No Longer Fear The Banana
Hugging The Donkey

Now that I've actually run a session of it, I am rethinking my decision, but for some very specific and quite enlightening reasons. 

First and foremost, the game went well. The players made fun and interesting characters, they role played them excellently, and the system worked just fine for the most part. If someone else were curious about running an Orville game using Star Trek Adventures, I'd say go for it! The subject and mechanics fit very well together. I mean they should; it's not difficult adapting a game from one setting to another very much little it. 

In the end however, I noticed something about the players, how they interacted with the game, and vice versa. It was an eye-opener, and it is definitely going to inform what we do next. 

One of the issues we had that made the game less than perfect was that I was quite distracted by caring for my furry friend. As a result of my concern for her condition at the time, I a tad disorganized. The session ran a bit more like a Session Zero, wherein the players get used to the system and their PCs, but it's not the real first adventure of ones campaign. 

Another was that the players took things very seriously, Star Trek seriously, and as such, The Orville didn't feel any different than running Trek. Furthermore...

This group enjoys, and is really good at, the major elements that make up the kinds of games I like to run.

They buy into the genre and setting.
They are good at getting into character.
They are interested in the world around them. 
They are excellent problem solvers. 
They work well together.

This means they have teamwork, and that means I can up the challenge. 

Analyzing these factors, I came to the realization that these players are too good for this game. 

Now what I mean by that is that although an Orville campaign could be super fun, it would kind of be a waste of talent. I could run a more serious, more detailed game with a somewhat more 'you live in this universe' feel with players like these. Sure, I could go for a light-hearted Space Adventure romp, but given how limited time and scheduling is, why not go for the gold? Why not run the best possible game I can run, with challenges, opponents, and plots that my other groups aren't quite adept at? 

For the first time in many years I think I can run a deep, dangerous game. While I love the Orville, and I suppose I could make it deep and dangerous, I think my players and I would be better served with something with a little more meat.

The Orville Adventures are therefore on hold, placed on my shelf of interesting projects I will get back to at some later date. 

My focus now is a revisiting of my Dungeons & Dragons-But-Not setting of Aerth, and an idea for a Traveller campaign.

This is going to be a thing. A new, fun thing.

Barking Alien

*My girlfriend played a Star Trek game I ran about 4, or 5 years back. She was in the first session only I believe, or maybe the first two, before scheduling became difficult. That first game was the first time we met. 

It wouldn't be until this past October of 2017 that we would see each other in person again, though we would talk on Facebook now and then. I'm so happy we reconnected.

My girlfriend spent the weekend with me, and after a fantastic Sunday, stayed over to Monday for what was perhaps the worst day, if not one of the worst days, of my entire life. My dog Delilah passed away while I was coming back from my first client. My girlfriend was alone in the apartment with her, and called me to return. I ran home, but it was too late.

Without my very special and absolutely amazing girl I would not have been able to function. She kept me focused and gave me unparalleled support. I am so very honored that someone so wonderful is sharing their life with me.

Later days my friends...


  1. Still breaks my heart to read about the passing of your dog, so I cannot begin to imagine how you are feeling.

    Moving onto lighter subjects: I, too, have been inspired by The Orville, but am looking to take things in a different direction to you. I'm opting to go with an ultra-simple system that was designed for light-hearted games, ie. The Red Dwarf RPG.

    Our sessions are barely three hours each month, so I find streamlined, easy-to-grasp (and hack) systems flow better and help us get the best use of our limited time.

    That said, it's almost certainly going to be a long while before I take the reins of the group, as we are in the middle of one campaign and another players has shown interest in running a game (he's never run one for us before, so I'm not going to stand in his way or start talking up my game while this new one is still brewing).

  2. Given what you were describing here I thought you were going to switch it back to a "real" Star Trek game. You have everything you want in your player group there and they seem to be into it, and you're going to switch to a Fantasy campaign?

    This is probably coming from the "distant" view of things and you know what's happening at your table better than I do but I'm curious why a Trek game isn;t the answer here.

  3. My condolences for your loss.

    I agree with Blacksteel.
    I think this Orville Adventure was a great firewall to find great Star Trek players.

  4. So sorry for your loss, Adam.

    I could definitely see myself using Far Trek for an Orville/Galaxy Quest game.

  5. Thank you everyone for your concern. It means a lot.

    In case it wasn't clear from previous posts, this group isn't quite right for Star Trek, and vice versa. Some members would be down for it, others less so.

    The very reason I chose to run The Orville with this group is so I could avoid the hang-ups of Star Trek (continuity, setting knowledge, and being morally upstanding).

    The idea of running a D&D game (or at least my D&D-But-Not setting) is really just to give my girlfriend a taste of the RPG classic. She feels that in order to really be a gamer, you have to have played D&D. It's like a right of passage type think. It isn't my personal preference, but it is a setting and genre my players really love.

    After that we are gearing up for Traveller, an old favorite of mine.

    Stay tuned for more.