Into the Oort is a quasi-hard SF setting: the Oort Cloud has been colonised by human beings who have lost contact with the rest of the Solar System, and you travel around it trading, adventuring, and getting into general Traveller-style derring-do. I was Gamble Pohl, pig-faced captain of The Statistical Violation; the other player was Verbal Creed, my "Number One". Together we did lots of bad things. From the Referee's AP:
Gamble Pohl and Verbal Creed are adventurers in the Oort Cloud, with Gamble being the de facto captain of a decommissioned warship called the Statistical Violation, a spaceship with a skeleton crew but two profitable cargoes.
They set off to deliver the first cargo, a shipment of guns to an isolationist community. The ship is stopped and boarded on the way by a border patrol from an asteroid, but our "heroes" turn the tables on the border patrol, and a few days later leave them adrift in a shuttlecraft a long way from home or rescue. Delivering the guns to the isolationists, they set off on a long journey to deliver their remaining cargo - four bodies in suspension pods that are being sold to an organ-harvester.
En route they detect several ships landed or crashed on a small asteroid, and a scan reveals some kind of base under the surface. After a small amount of exploration and antique-finding, they destroy some automated guard drones and confuse a weird skeleton-in-a-mechsuit. Following a blood trail they find a party of frightened explorers who have barricaded themselves in to a storage room. They reassure them that they will help...
...then go to the surface of the asteroid and proceed to steal their ships.
Now in charge of a fleet of three ships, the new Admiral Gamble Pohl and Captain Verbal Creed proceed to the organ-harvester, selling the four bodies they originally had, and another twenty-four colonists that were in suspension on one of the other ships.
Organ-harvester: "These are children and families."Gamble Pohl: "We're willing to consider a bulk rate."
Having secured a hefty payment for the totally innocent and unsuspecting colonists' organs, they set off to look for somewhere to upgrade their spaceship...
Technically they didn't kill anyone in the several in-game months that passed, but I can't help but feel that they earned the nickname that one of them started using: Space Bastards.
Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not doing any hand-wringing about Bad Things Happening in Games here. It's more that, in a one-shot, there's no particular reason to worry about negative consequences, and hence things end up feeling, ultimately, shorn of impact. The people on the asteroid and the 24 colonists in suspended animation were even less real than ordinary NPCs, because they only existed for the single session in which we were playing. They didn't have any friends or relatives to mourn them or come after us for revenge, and there wasn't any authority which could arrest and punish us for dicking them over, because the timeline was finite and nothing would exist the next day. So everything became ephemeral, and it is very easy to act in an amoral way when things are ephemeral: people who aren't going to exist in a few hours time don't really feel like people; bad things done in a reality which will disappear by the next day don't really feel like bad things; crimes committed without threat of retaliation or punishment don't feel like crimes. We, as players, were free to satisfy our ids without conscience or fear.
I liked the session a lot, and we had a very good time, but one-shots are simply no replacement for a proper long-term campaign of indefinite length.
I find that if players want to be bastards, they will. More people want to be bastards than be heroes (hence our world).ReplyDelete
I've run, and played, numerous one-shots where being a degenerate was not the order of the day, either because the story, setting, and character didn't facilitate that style of play, or the players didn't.
Sorry, but I'm not enough of a jerk for most gamers.
Sometimes you get a sandbox and just want to build a nice big castle. Other times you want to build a nice big castle just so you can stomp it flat. The latter can be cathartic.ReplyDelete
Very nice point.ReplyDelete
An additional point is that many people run campaigns like this anyway. They just run though chapter-by-chapter with little broad thought about consequences or the wider game world. So, unfortunately, this sort of thing is all too common.
It's a video game mentality: "I can save and restart so why not spend an hour or two being a dick; I can always go back to my save spot before I was an ass." I recall reading somewhere that the vid-game Fable originally had children in its villages, but they found players would kill them and decided to simply remove them rather than risk controversy and outcry.ReplyDelete
We've had two campaigns in the past couple of years that were both dubbed Space Assholes.ReplyDelete
The campaign format did not disuade the players from being bastards.
Maybe it's something about privateering in space.
"Time to play a berserker and die heroically, in glorious battle against tremendous odds" is typical of my approach to one-shots. The Seven Samurai is a lousy campaign premise from sheer bodycount, but great for a one-shot where dying isn't a huge deal. I'm probably more of a bastard in campaign play, where NPCs have things worth betraying over and then relatives that also need taken care of. I either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain, I suppose.ReplyDelete
Noisms, I'm skeptical of your thesis about your own intensions for one reason:ReplyDelete
You upgraded the ship at the end of the session.
If people who last for only a few hours are less than people, then why is a ship any different? It's not, upgrading the ship has no lasting effects any more than selling off the colonists did.
However, the way D&D-style game structures work is that "winning" is getting to upgrade (your characters, your ship, your equipment, etc). Even in a one-shot, it's gold that gets you XP, not good deeds. In a campaign, you're maximizing finding gold (space credits whatever) over a longer period of time, so social contacts are useful for finding gold. In a one-shot, you're maximizing finding gold for that single session, so mostly social contacts are more worth betraying for what gold they have on them, than helping in order to get information, rewards, and long-term gold out of them.
""Time to play a berserker and die heroically, in glorious battle against tremendous odds" is typical of my approach to one-shots."ReplyDelete
'Why did you do all just *that*?' I asked my players, pleadingly. 'Well, it is nearly midnight. This is just a one-shot, isn't it?' they reply.
"No. You're all dead. Start a new campaign next week?"
Does your buddy have anywhere one can go to read more about his 'Into the Oort' system? Love the premise!ReplyDelete
Hi! Just spotted the comment. Here's a link to the start of a short series of blogposts sharing some details about the setting, which is a hacking of the awesome Into The Odd by Chris McDowall. Work has derailed some of my efforts with this lately, but have just picked up the pen again, so hopefully more Oort things soon.Delete
"Space Bastards" -- or more accurately, *SPACE BASTARDS!* -- was/is the name of my skirmish-y, quasi-RPG-y old-school 40K campaign.ReplyDelete
"Statistical Violation" Best. Ship. Name. Ever.ReplyDelete
I am a huge fan of Iain M. Banks' Culture books, particularly the ship names, so I was casting my brain around for original combinations of words which would be Banks-esque. Statistical Violation was top of the list.