Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Road Less Travellered

Recently, I ran the 22nd session of our group's more or less monthly classic Traveller campaign, Operation: Paladin.

This really is, by far, one of the best campaigns I've run in a very long time. The only downside is that trying to get a second campaign together seems impossible. It's like, we can play Traveller, at least this Traveller, but any other genre or setting is doomed to failure.

More about that another time. Right here, right now, I want to focus on what has happened in our Traveller game, what it means for the future of the campaign, and why I feel my Traveller isn't your run-of-the-mill version.

Our Story Thus Far... 

A Solomani politician, currently the sector's Secretary of Defense, is making a play for Sector Governor. Secretly, he (with the help of an elaborate network of allies) is building an army of psionic, cybernetic super-soldiers, who will go into battle in robotic, powered armor. Once in office he will use his secret army to attack the Imperial Duchess of Spica, and declare Spica an independant Solomani ruled nation.

This plan has been in effect for over thirty years.

By piecing together various clues, talking to the right people, and being in the right (and wrong) places at the right (and wrong) times, the team had enough information to find at least one of the choreographers of this mad dance; the idea man behind much of the genetic and psionic manipulations was a SuSAG corporation board member named Abraham Grant.

After successfully infultrating the SuSAG orbital vault and obtaining evidence, PC Belarus Hosta (Will) used her family connections with SuSAG to bring the evidence before a meeting of the board of directors.

Long story short, the PCs not only manage to expose Grant and get him fired from SuSAG, but their evidence and all relavant information is forwarded to both Imperial and Solomani Intelligence. Grant is immediately arrested and charged with treason, conspiracy, and a host of other things.

Problem player, Marcus, is actually helpful in the situation. Afterward, he is asked to accompany Imperial Intelligence and SolSec (Solomani Security) Agents as they transfer Grant into custody. They are expecting someone might try to kill Grant to keep what he knows a secret.

What does Marcus has Rex do?

After escaping a fire fight against would be assassins, Rex continues forward with Grant and two Solomani officers while the wounded retreat back to the SuSAG building and eventually the nearby hospital. Rex at some point manages to separate himself from the other two officers and play it off like a door is malfunctioning. He promises to meet them back at the rendezvous site.

Rex then attempts to make a deal with Grant. Rex will hide Grant and tell people he escaped. Then, Grant will help Rex and the rest of the team to find the others involved in the conspiracy. Grant agrees and Rex calls the SuSAG company's head lawyer, who has apparently known about Grant's wrong doings and covered them up. Rex offers to give Grant over to the lawyer. The lawyer says OK and sends a van to pick up Grant.

Do you see a problem here? Rex didn't.

Grant gets injured when additional assassins show up, but Rex manages to escape with him to reach the contact and their vehicle. The PCs, knowing roughly where Rex was and thinking he was in trouble, send a taxi to pick him up. He tells the taxi he doesn't work for their company, and refuses the pick up.

With Grant injured, the contacts in the van bring Grant and Rex to a hidden garage with a stolen ambulance in it. As they are about to transfer a dead body out of the Ambulance and put Grant into it, Marcus comes up with another, er, brilliant idea. He sets up an electrical discharge device, puts the body back in, and drive the ambulance to the hospital. As he reaches it, he uses his repulsor and grav belts to hurl himself from the vehicle as if blown out, while the electrical device fries the vehicle's interior.

Rex claims the body was Grant, who had been injured, and who Rex was rushing to the hospital. The team's enemies much have sabotaged the ambulance.

As news of the event goes out, Rex rests overnight in a hospital bed.

The coroner's office takes a look at the body. Dental and DNA records don't match. Imperial Intelligence is called. The local director calls one of the PCs. She calls the other PCs. Within moments everyone knows.

The man the PCs took several sessions to learn the identity of, and several more to take him out of the picture, is now free thanks to Marcus' character.

This is Marcus.

The other PCs had had enough. Based on the falsified evidence, and using her connections with the Imperial Navy and Intelligence bureaus, one PC organized a massive arrest procedure.

Coordinated with Solomani Security, the other PCs and local law enforcement, at 7:00 'AM', 0700 hours station time, Rex Kinkaid was arrested on charges of treason, conspiracy, aiding and abetting a suspected traitor and conspirator, falsifying evidence, theft, manslaughter (for some of the combat inside the tunnels while escaping with Grant), obstruction of justice, and at least five or six other crimes.

I have to say, I was totally impressed. Hans, who played the arresting officer, Amaya Takeda, read Rex his rights, which Hans himself wrote up. He used well thought out tactics to position his team at important locations including various exits, and snipers on the roof opposite the hospital.

Rex Kinkaid, Marcus' character, is now on his way to a Penal Colony via Prisoner Transport at Jump-4, where he will wait until a trial date is set.

I offered to allow Marcus to make up a new character. He refused. He asked to be told when Rex's trial date comes so he can mount a defense. I said OK to that.

So Marcus is out of the game for the time being, and honestly, I think the rest of us couldn't be happier.

It's one thing to go off on your own, play the secretive or lone wolf character, but when your actions directly undermine what the rest of the group has been working toward, I don't feel sorry for you if it bites you in the ass.

This player is a murderhobo treating the game like it warrants that. The rest are actors in a complex, dramatic, emotional, suspense thriller. I have no problem with saying, "Get the hell off the set. You're in the wrong, damn movie."

Barking Alien

For more information on Marcus, you may want to check out:

A Considerable Threat
Gaming Solo...With A Group


  1. There is nothing more satisfying than when the players take matters into their own hands and deal with a problem PC through their own means - whether that's through violence or through a beautiful plan with snipers and a trail.

    1. I couldn't have put it better myself Charles.

      All I did was follow the logical progression of what the NPCs would do based on what we had established in the previous sessions.

      The authorities find out the body isn't Grant.
      The authorities call their contact among the PCs.
      The PC makes sure all related but separate law enforcement people know what's up.
      The PC calls the other PCs.
      The PCs agree on a course of action, and the first PC plans the arrest.

      Flawless execution. FINISH HIM! LOL

  2. Speaking strictly as an occasional player myself THAT SCHEME WOULDN'T HAVE WORKED NOW, MUCH LESS IN 5000 AD! OF course, I assume some of the other players knew that and decided to let him hang himself and, well, that happens when you decide to freelance and subvert the rest of your group.

    I've been reading your Marcus exploits and trying to think of a way you could turn it into a positive but an incident like this pretty much settles the issue for the group. I had a similar problem a few years back and wrote it up in a pair of "When Player's Just Don't Get It" posts. Sometimes things just do not work out ...

    1. Exactly Blacksteel. I'd like to read those posts. How long ago? Where would I look for them?

    2. Hear, hear. That plan of his sounded downright stupid. He didn't break the teeth first? Or use plasma fire to destroy all the DNA evidence? Did he not even care where the body came from? Or the ambulance? It sounds like he left evidence everywhere, and didn't even talk to it over with the group. If he had gotten the team to work on it, maybe he might have been able to hide or destroy all that evidence. I'm glad to hear that he's out of the game for now. For the past few years of reading this blog, he's come up like five times, and each time as a major thorn to the story. To better games in the future.

    3. I had my fun with this in 2010. If you look under the "players" category on the right margin these 2 posts are towards the bottom of the list

  3. Oh God, it's like if Homer Simpson wanted to fake his own death.

    So do you think he'll learn, or is he just out? You're giving him a trial, which will allow him to dominate the game for at least one more session...

  4. Sadly no, I don't think he'll learn.

    I am pretty sure at this point he doesn't see it as anything he did wrong. He will probably think he just wasn't clever and secretive ENOUGH. O_0

    Players like Marcus think being the underhanded, sneaky guy who stands alone is fun. It's what gaming is supposed to be about. For some groups, at some tables, maybe it is. It doesn't work well at ours however.

    I will give him his 'day in court' as it were. I won't focus on him anymore than necessary however. I will jump back and forth from him to the main story and characters. He will have one last chance to redeem himself or at least lessen his sentence. If not, good riddance.