Monday, February 06, 2006

Pulsars and Privateers: the 'difficult second game'

The rubicon has been crossed - the second game is finished and the cliffhanger has been set. The crew of the Khanjar were rescued from certain doom by a Calipahate Dreadnought come to take the Agha home, after a terrible accident within the Caliphate has killed a number of the Royal House. The ground work for the first part of the campaign has been set - but boy was it treacherous getting there.

It was one of those sessions where I knew I would be up against it. Some of us had been Warcrafting beforehand and there was animated conversation about that. My nose was still blocked, making speaking hard. The washing machine in the room we play in was spinning - making it impossible to concentrated. You just knew the gaming atmosphere was frayed slightly.

This was a different game from the last - an infiltration of a besieged world to rescue an Argent Empire agent, under cover of a House Tryan mining check-up. However, juxtapositioning the martial dominance of a newly inhabited prisoner planet (troops on the streets, behaviour inhibitors in the central water supply, social engineering via massive message boards) with the gung-ho, devil-may-care attitude of space opera was hard - no, almost impossible. Every time the heroes had a great idea, it seemed the logic of the setting would cut them off until such a point where they were literally sat silent, with nothing to do.

Thats bad GMing in my book.

In the end, an inspired moment lead to some heavy drama. The mechanics of the settings communications were used to inspire a wonderful bit of dealing which freed the spy and set up a dramatic countdown for one of the characters, Talia. We saw some expansion on the way that Zeb, the cybernetic pilot, can use his abilities. And talking on the way home it would appear that next session Marcus the Engineer will show his true colours as well. All good.

Indeed, the chat in the car on the way home is sometimes the most telling of the session. I was a little anxious that some of the set pieces - like the hoverbike chase - did not come off as dramatic as they could have been. I was assured that they did - but that even the inevitable safety of the 'suicide dive' off the cliff was fine. 'If we didn't do those things, it wouldn't be SF'

Hopefully, there will be a lot of questions now. Why are the Confed acquiring weapons grade material? Why have they hired House Decados to genetically engineer for them? Why were those monks going on about? What will be the reprecussions of the information brought from Haxxar V? Who are the pirates who tried to kill them? What's happened in the Caliphate? Whats the business with Zeb's cyber-girlfriend?

Hopefully, that will get us into the meat of the game and over the sticky second session.



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