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Running a PD Campaign

 
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cobidog
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Joined: 15 Aug 2011
Posts: 4
Location: Arlingtion, VA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:52 pm    Post subject: Running a PD Campaign Reply with quote

Hi all,

First time poster, long time lurker... I have not gamed in the Trek / Star Fleet universe in a while, but have had a campaign idea brewing in the back of my head for several months. Recently, I started getting my ideas down on paper and pulling together the elements for a detailed campaign I could run. I'm starting to get excited about this, and would like to start player recruitment, soon.

Along the way, I have come up with two questions that I was hoping to get input on, from community members:

1) I am planning to use GURPS PD for the RPG. Would I be better served integrating Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander to handle space combat? Or, should I consider another option? In my younger days, we had great fun combining the FASA Star Trek RPG with SFB. I'd like to have some depth around space combat and tactics, but it doesn't need to be completely overriding.

2) I plan to run this campaign via chat or one of the virtual table top tools. I am not looking for comprehensive review of tools (I've done quite a bit of googling and research on this), but I am interested in learning if any work particularly well (or poorly) with both the RPG and space combat side of things. Hoping to gain from other'x experience.

Thanks for the help!
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Bolo_MK_XL
Commander


Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 785
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just comment you may want to review the campaign done on the forum just recently --

Donjebruche Adventure

Several threads for the campaign, After Action, Character background ---
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cobidog
Ensign


Joined: 15 Aug 2011
Posts: 4
Location: Arlingtion, VA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Bolo. I've read the background threads on the campaign, but haven't dived into the lengthy in-character posts in the sticky, yet.

I wanted to add one other option on space combat to my post, which is the GURPS Spaceships rules. I saw at least one forum post on here about folks using those, but it didn't have a lot of detail.
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leathernsteel
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 07 Jun 2011
Posts: 196
Location: Orlando, FL

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:50 am    Post subject: Re: Running a PD Campaign Reply with quote

cobidog wrote:
Hi all,

First time poster, long time lurker...
Welcome aboard, glad to hear from ya!

cobidog wrote:
I am planning to use GURPS PD for the RPG. Would I be better served integrating Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander to handle space combat? Or, should I consider another option? In my younger days, we had great fun combining the FASA Star Trek RPG with SFB. I'd like to have some depth around space combat and tactics, but it doesn't need to be completely overriding.
I would advise using Federation Commander for an RPG group. SFB is a little to much for folks that are mainly into the RPG side of things. Although later, those folks might want to do some SFB stuff.
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Mr_Tricorder
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 05 Aug 2011
Posts: 59

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm preparing my first PD campaign for a group that has never played GURPS before (neither have I, but I'm reading as much as I can on it). I'm not planning on getting into any space combat until maybe late in the second adventure or into the third one, but I know I don't want to introduce them to a whole new game on top of GPD just to resolve space combat.

I'm thinking of a very simplified approach that uses some SFB/FC concepts and mechanics such as SSDs and some form of energy allocation but keep it roleplay oriented and probably make it mapless in order to keep from getting bogged down in starship maneuvering tactics so the action can keep moving forward. I'm not sure how well I can translate things like facings and firing arcs in a mapless system, but I know my group isn't going to want to stop the roleplay and pull out a wargame right in the middle of the adventure.

I know this approach may not be ver appealing to all you SFB and FC lovers out there, but there's only one person in our group besides me who has ever played SFB before, and neither of us have even touched the game in at least a decade. No one in my group, including myself, has ever played FC before, so even though that may be the easier and faster game to get into, we would all be starting from square one just like we are with GURPS.
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Darkwing
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Joined: 23 Oct 2010
Posts: 249
Location: ZZ 9 plural Z A

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My experience with a Star Fleet Universe like role playing game included space combat. Even though most of the gaming group played SFB, we did not use it (or the space combat system that came with the game) while playing the RPG. We abstracted it more - that is we made it play more like the TV show.
Now, we did use players' skills and decisions to determine the outcome of combat, but not like what might happen in FC or SFB. Usually, those games result in at least one ship being destroyed. In either of those games, that's fine. In a role playing game situation it could happen that the players' ship would get fragged and that results in a pointless total party kill. That's really frustrating to players and the gamemaster who's put so much work into creating a campaign.
The way we handled it was that the fights were short and sweet. If we "won" the battle, then some obstacles would be removed from the upcoming portion of the game (the Klingon ship was disabled and therefore unable to deliver an operative to the planet, or it was unable to contact the high command and request reinforcements so that we would only have to face a small patrol force during the endgame). If we "lost" the battle, the other ship would withdraw due to damage which allowed us to limp away from the skirmish, but we would be "punished" by damage to the ship's labs, or computer core, or transporters...anything that might make it more difficult to solve the puzzle or to finish the campaign.
And - no - we could never just wait until the affected system was repaired.
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cobidog
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Joined: 15 Aug 2011
Posts: 4
Location: Arlingtion, VA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Appreciate the input, guys. I share the concerns about a buzz kill, if the players get totally hosed. But, it just doesn't feel like Trek without some form of dynamic space-based action. Very Happy

I've been reading a ton over the last couple of days to come up with the best way to do this. Like Mr_Tricorder, space combat won't be critical for a while, but other decisions might be -- tricky maneuvering, stealth, that kind of thing. But I do have a couple of other episodes/module ideas that are more combat-oriented.

I am leaning towards the combat system described in GURPS Spaceships (including the third supplement, which has a more advanced, map-based system). These provide some mechanics for space combat but are still RPG based, so I think I can jump in and out pretty painlessly -- I like Darkwing's idea of "living to fight another day" and using the results of space combat to influence the rest of the adventure.

I might end up play-testing a bit, seeing how the players react, and then tone it up/down based on their feedback. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has struggled with this concept!
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leathernsteel
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 07 Jun 2011
Posts: 196
Location: Orlando, FL

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cobidog wrote:
I share the concerns about a buzz kill, if the players get totally hosed.
I regret to report that I have no Prime Directive experience. All my GM experience comes from running 3rd addition D&D games Sad . None the less, I love the SFU and hope that I can help you using the GM experience I do have.
As far as the group "getting hosed" in a space battle, if you read the book, "For the Glory of the Empire, by ADB", there is a case in there where the main character was involved in a pitched space battle to where his ship was destroyed. Reading that part you thought for sure that he was killed, but if read the next chapter, you find out that him and one other officer were beamed out at the last minute. As a GM, you have license to use such devices to keep you group's characters alive. Don't be afraid to put your group's character in difficult or "impossible" scenario's. Just come up with a plan B to "miraculously" save them which could cause a closer attachment between the players and their characters. Example, they would think,' my guy is really awesome if he survived that!' Try to intuit your player's attachment to their characters and play off of that, and risk the lives of them, but don't destroy them.
This is all with the assumption that you run a fed com or SFB scenario that your player characters lose.
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cobidog
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Joined: 15 Aug 2011
Posts: 4
Location: Arlingtion, VA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahh... the "Captain! We can invert the deflector shield to send out a mega-muto-proton ray. If we can change frequencies fast enough, that should enable us to break free of its grip!" solution. Very Happy A staple of TNG and Voyager, as I recall.

Thanks for the ideas -- I'm not being a smarty-pants. I do understand that I have the authori-tay! as GM to take exceptional action to prevent the loss of the gaming party, and it is sometimes necessary. However, I think a near death experience -- even one with negative consequences because of damage, injury, shipwreck, etc -- is preferable to a miraculous rescue in most cases. I think that a lack of danger can make for as bad a game as too many player kills, while the right type of consequences for player actions can be really compelling. Of course, they can't be set up to fail, and that's where we have to find a balance between playability (heroic action), believability/continuity (in-game) and fun.

Please keep the ideas coming! It's nice to get the input from folks with other RPG experience.
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aramis
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Joined: 25 Jul 2011
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the matter of ship combat: IMO, you're best off using some form of bridge simulation interface, and not slavishly adhering to a boardgame mode.

As for tools:

voice - I've found skype is fine for small player groups (total 4 sites). For more, you'll need something better. Ventrillo and TeamSpeak are the ones I see others discussing using once Skype's too limited.

Text - if using skype, it does simultaneous chat, too.

Dice - I use a dieroller at catchyourhare.com that is "shared" - players and GM all see the rolls as made, and the dice can be dragged about to sort them.

Almost all of my online gaming has been Burning Wheel, tho', and BW is well suited for voice + dice mode without maps.
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Mr_Tricorder
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Joined: 05 Aug 2011
Posts: 59

PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder how well the hangout feature in Google+ would work in place of skype or ventrillo or teamspeak.
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CarlZog
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 01 Jun 2012
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is probably far too late to help the original poster, but....

I'm new to PD and SFU, but I have run a lot of space and nautical RPGs involving PCs as ship's crew. Although I love tactical board wargaming, I always try very hard to avoid it in RPGs. It kills the suspension of disbelief, and it invariably leaves some players bored with nothing to do.

Instead, focus on skill-based ship combat. Just as in old Trek, every player should be able to contribute something to the success of the ship in battle: science, comms, engineering, helm, nav, weapons etc. Those characters' individual skills and, as other have suggested, players' creative solutions is what you want to focus on.

Traveller spaceship combat touches on this a bit, and I'm looking forward to seeing how PDTraveller chooses to handle it. However, the best execution of character-based ship combat, in my opinion, was TSR's Alternity, most of whose ideas could be easily ported to Traveller or D20M. (I don't know GURPS)

For whatever it's worth,
Carl

EDIT: I now see this topic was also addressed in this thread.
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Steve Cole
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Joined: 11 Oct 2006
Posts: 3052

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike W has an SFU combat system using traveller rules, but you can never fight SFU ships against Traveller ships. The scales and technologies are just totally incompatible. An SFU ship can pick apart a Traveller ship at ranges where the traveller ship cannot even detect a target.
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