Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Full of Surprises

Continuing along from my last post but not showing you what's behind curtain #1 just yet - I am truly evil, no? - I wanted to mention the clues I liberally littered throughout the first three sessions of my FRONTIER campaign. 

More Easter Eggs than true clues, these not-really-hidden references were really more for me then the players. If they picked up on any of them great! If not, it actually helped the final reveal have even more impact. 

At the same time, they were there, right out in the open more times than not. I made a concentrated effort (which I honestly had to practice) not to put special emphasis on any of these clues and make them yet another background detail in a setting I was building from the players and their PCs to enjoy. 

The hints, signs, and signals of what was to come ranged from very subtle to blatant but in the latter case I managed to hide them in plain sight. 

A moment in the game might prompt one or more players to ask a question. I, with a neutral, straight face or easy smile, would answer the question in a matter of fact way that absolutely revealed a truth about the game's setting. These answers were taken not at face value but as references to something else so as to seem only tangentially in context.

For example, let's say you were playing an 'original' setting Superhero RPG and a glowing green rock was discovered that seemed to be deadly to a particular villain. A player might say, "Wait...like Kryptonite hurts Superman?" The GM would answer, "Exactly. Though it isn't just Superman, right? I mean, any Kryptonian would be effected by the radiation from a Kryptonite rock." The players would nod and plan on obtaining more of the rock to defeat their enemy, not realizing that the enemy is in fact an actual Kryptonian and their campaign is set in some alternate version of the DC Universe. 

So these were the clues I put out there...can you figure out the truth behind our semi-dystopian Science Fiction Space Exploration game before my next post?

Just one moment...

Before you get all full of yourselves on how easy it is for you to figure out what's going on and think, 'How could Adam's group not know they were playing in a X campaign? Those rubes!', bear in mind everything I mentioned above plus...

You are reading these hints in a list, completely free of any other in-game or out-of-game activity or distractions. I have removed these from three sessions, each session being 5-5 1/2 hours long, with 8 players. You aren't getting the Role-Playing, the Battles, Rules Explanations, Jokes, or any of the other things that goes into a real game. 

Jeopardy is much easier at home than it is when you're in the TV studio with the bright lights, live audience, and Alex Trebek's steely-eyed gaze bearing down on you. 

Now let's see:

Episode Zero/Pilot Episode - Session 1 - Beast of Burden

The campaign's starting date and year is May 25th, 2212.

Beast of Burden, by the Rolling Stones plays on the incoming commercial transport, the USCSS Orpheus. 

The Orpheus is a White Dwarf vessel, formerly used by Red Star Lines.

The Project Director for our Scientific Research Mission is Director Rebecca Jorden. 

Director Jorden has her ID and Access Cards on a keychain with a plastic Lizard or Gecko on it. 

Alerts from the AI of all the ships feature a blinking yellow light. 

There is very specific iconography for the various departments and sections of the ships and FRONTIER station. 

The government names United Americas and United Systems are mentioned. 

An Android is discovered among the Orpheus crew. She is injured and bleeds a milky white substance. When asked if it was like Bishop in Aliens I said yes. Another player mentioned two other IPs that also feature Androids with similar chemical or non-Red blood. The Replicants of Blade Runner are brought up and I explain the differences in design theory between the Tyrell Corporations Replicants and Hyperdyne Systems Synthetics to give detail and context. 

A player asks if it is normal to see Androids in this setting. I reply, "It's been policy for years to have a synthetic on board all government, military, and large scale corporate vessels. It's a little unusual to see one on a private, commercial transport, but not unheard of."

A mysterious signal is detected that is thought to be the cause of the Orpheus' accident. It is very dense and comes in 12 second bursts. 

Episode I - Session 2 - Comfortably Numb

Episode open with Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb playing. The lines reference what happened in the last episode as well as the current situation with the dangerous signal:

"A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying."

The Medical Transport, the USMSS Foster, serves the Extrasolar Colonization Administration. 

The Foster is en route to the Arcturus System following a worker rebellion that required marines to be sent in. Although order was restored, there were many wounded on both sides and medical supplies were needed. 

That occurred in 2177, 35 years prior to our current campaign date.

OK, wait, this brings me to a great scene:

The Trauma Team Medic is awoken from a 35 year Hypersleep and when asked what year she thinks it is she first responds that it's a strange question, then says it's 2177, and then says, "Don't tell me. I've been asleep for more than 50 years". The Security Officer who woke her replies...

SO: "No..." 

Medic: "Thank goodness."

SO: "It's been 35."

Medic: *Vomits on the SO's boots*

SO: *Short pause while looking down* Looks back at Medic and says, "Yeah that tracks."

The team, with Medic in tow, discover the extraterrestrial 'temple' structure. Inside in a large chamber covered in hieroglyphics and pictograms. Among the symbols are:

Long, thin vines - or snakes or tentacles - with thorns, spines, or spikes.

A football shaped oval resembling a seed or egg. 

Humanoid figures shown only from the waist up, wearing helmets or gas mask with an elongated nose tube or trunk (like an elephant). 

Episode II - Session 3 - Under Pressure 

As the 'camera' descends into the temple, Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie plays. 

"It's the terror of knowing what this world is about,
Watching some good friends screaming, 'let me out'!"

The further exploration of the structure takes the group into other rooms with more hieroglyphs and a pictographic language. Much of the aforementioned symbols reappear as does a slightly asymmetrical 'horseshoe' or 'omega' emblem. 

As the team descends further down to the lower levels of the building we learn at least part of the purpose of the place. Those who constructed it, 'The Thinkers', were researching a weapon to use against another alien species. 

A player says jokingly, "What is this? A Weyland-Yutani facility?" I laugh and reply, "This? No way even Weyland-Yutani could build something like this. This was clearly constructed by a highly advanced alien intelligence. That said, man, they'd probably kill to get a chance to study this place."

In addition to all of these points, there were a series of re-occurring numbers. As my friend Ray noted in an unrelated discussion, "Adam does love his numerical clues".

The numbers include:









By now you probably know what the players now know...

The big reveal next post.

Barking Alien


  1. That's awesome and super cool. Can't wait to see how this plays out.

    On a side note: I just realized that none of my comments on your last month or so of posts have gone through...boop. Time to go back and re-submit them.

    1. Thanks and yes, please re-comment. Love you hear from you!