Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fragments – Things I’ve Learned About My Game

One of the interesting things about starting a campaign is learning things you didn’t know about your own campaign as the players put together their characters.

The population of the starting world (Maresfield) in my Hero Traveller campaign was all human – until the PCs were created. Two of my players created non-humans (a Lante and a Low Waldi) and one created a human-alien hybrid. Suddenly I had to add a viable Lante population (as Maresfield has been cut off for 80-90 years) to the mix and enough Low Waldi that some would still be around when the game started. Plus I needed reasons why these races were on the planet.

As Maresfield was primarily a custom luxury starship manufacturing planet, it made sense that Lante from the technician caste would be on planet, working for the various corporations. The Low Waldi, on the other hand, were a different story. Discussing it with the player, we decided the majority of the Low Waldi in the Maresfield system were working as shipbreakers and salvage specialists. As there was not a lot of this type of work, they were a marginal population and now there are only a couple hundred left. The other Low Waldi were servants of some High Waldi waiting on their ships. What happened to the High Waldi? That’s a secret…

This left me with the human-alien hybrid. One of the other PCs backstory referenced a group doing illegal genetic experiments of an undetermined nature, so I made this character one of the few successes of the experimentation. I also made him blue, as the most likely group for hybridizing are the Lante, who have a blue skin tone. These two backstories also introduced a (currently unnamed) sinister corporation experimenting with malware, something I had not originally envisioned, but liked once the player introduced it.

This brings up the two distinct religious groups on the planet. First are the Owenites, a neo-Quaker type group that espouses simple agrarian living in arcologies. They originally started in a different system, but were persecuted there (or at least that’s the story passed down). The Owenites purchased a station in the Maresfield system and converted it into an arcology, growing their own foods in the station. Around the time of The Crash, the station failed somehow and most of the Owenites died. The survivors were granted refugee status on Maresfield and then stuck there when The Crash stopped all space travel.

The other religious group is a monastic order that prizes the preservation of knowledge. They are mostly human, but accepted an orphaned Low Waldi boy when he showed a knack for memorizing things. When the player presented this in his characters’ backstory, I immediately linked it to a monastic group I had already established in a different system. This was actually handy, as I had not worked out what they were all about and now I had a handle on them. Plus, at least one of the player characters was now motivated to go to that planet and see if the Order still exists.

The last thing I learned about Maresfield is that there is a black market for salvage OldTech. The same PC backstory that introduced the Owenites and the sinister corporation also wanted to introduce space pirates. This was a problem as the campaign baseline stated that there was no space travel for the last 80-90 years until just recently. So we talked and worked out that, while there were no space pirates operating out of an abandoned space station, there are pirates on the seas of Maresfield that hijack supply ships travelling between isolated settlement and scavenging OldTech on the planet from abandoned facilities and deorbited stations.

So I had alien races, religious groups on the fringes, sinister corporations, and pirates on Maresfield where none had existed prior to character creation. I love it.

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