Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

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Tea Rex
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Tea Rex » Thu Feb 04, 2021 9:31 pm

Kulthea wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 2:11 pm
As the players are agents of Grandfather I've taken a few liberties with the Deepnight campaign. My players have an Ancient ship instead of Deepnight. The ship is bigger (an asteroid) and the crew are droyne (a Dreskay family group they befriended following Secrets). The idea is that the ship will serve as a mobile base of operations. The far more advanced technology means I can wave my hands around a little more and not worry so much about resources or crew problems. I want to focus on the 'star trek episode' nature of arriving in a new place every (few) weeks.
This is a very cool twist to start with and I am curious to learn more about it. I and my players also liked the idea of having star trek feeling in traveller. We had thought about how we could implement this and then the Deepnight Revelation campaign came along. Bingo!

The characters in my campaign are also veterans with some fame and social standing, so they were able to design their ship for long term missions. In fact, the ship design predates the DR campaign.

What I am wondering is how you are handling the advanced technology of the ancients? Did you give them all achievements of a certain techlevel? And how do you do the balancing. My players tend to powergaming, so I always have to be very careful what I give to them.

Kulthea wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 2:11 pm
I'm two sessions into the Deepnight material (in the middle of Legacy). From here, to get my head around it, I'm using a spreadsheet that rolls up random systems as per the Great Rift books. The spreadsheet is currently 4 sectors wide representing the Riftsedge Transit portion of the campaign. I've hardcoded the encounter areas (Radio Source Vilaakasii, Hennlix Nebula, etc) and in the gaps along the way will put the episodes that don't have a specific location like Ripples in the Void (especially interesting with a full Droyne crew).
How exactly do you prepare for encounters along the way? How do your spreadsheets look like? It seems this could be also extremely helpful in my campaign.

Kulthea wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 2:11 pm
Once they've exhausted that region of space we move to the next area, hopefully with a number of clues found.
I think this touches a very crucial point in running the campaign: The campaign is epic and tons of ideas and adventure seeds are to be found between the pages, but for such a long journey, this is still not enough. It is impossible to address every possibility and also improvisation has its limits. For example, at some point the letters and numbers in the spreadsheets of star systems fail to give you new ideas, but the players choose this system for general overhaul and you want to make their stay more interesting...
One of the great expectations I have of this thread is that we can exchange creative ideas to help each other making our campaigns even more memorable for our players.

Kulthea wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 2:11 pm
Interested to hear your thoughts. I'm really looking forward to running this campaign. The changes I've made to fit it into the much larger arc of my campaign shouldn't make much of a difference I hope.
Please keep us informed of your progress!
Tea Rex
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Tea Rex » Thu Feb 04, 2021 9:43 pm

shammond42 wrote:
Thu Jan 28, 2021 4:06 am
I'm wondering what people are doing to track ship resources. Page 3 of the Referee's Handbook shows some tracking sheets, but I don't think those are actually a thing? Does anybody have a spreadsheet or some other solution they want to share?
The sheets in the handbook look really nice. Unfortunately, I am not gifted to create something like this.
Due to Corona we are playing in Discord. We have one channel dedicated to keep track of the resources and the state of the crew. Everything is plain text and you have to edit the stats every time something changes but it is working.
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Kulthea » Fri Feb 05, 2021 1:58 pm

Old School wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 4:05 pm
Kulthea - great to see you here again, and glad to hear you’re starting a new campaign. Your POD campaign writeups were great.
Thanks! The campaign never stopped, I just didn't write it up on a blog.
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Kulthea » Fri Feb 05, 2021 3:08 pm

Sorry Tea Rex I can't make the quotes within quotes work!

You asked:
What I am wondering is how you are handling the advanced technology of the ancients? Did you give them all achievements of a certain techlevel? And how do you do the balancing. My players tend to powergaming, so I always have to be very careful what I give to them.

(This is a long answer, but I hope worth it)>

SPOILERS for Secrets of the Ancient ahead BTW.

The ancient technology is kind of just there in the background. The ship they have is 2 million tons (an asteroid - look up Oumuamua in your web search engine of choice) and is really just a mobile base to come back to. They have decided to take a TL15 ship (still very nice) to visit planets so that nobody knows that they have such advanced tech available to them. It's most certainly power gaming, but for a reason. By taking some of the mundane things out of the equation (e.g. engineering and space limitations - the cargo bay is 1 km long and the power plant is a small sun with limitless fuel) it means they can concentrate on exploring, discovery and first contact, rather than the things they worried about in Drinax and Ancients.

As for how they got the ancient tech. For those familiar with the Ancients campaign the characters experience some of the memories of agents at the time of Grandfather - the players control agents from 300,000 or so years ago. A side effect is the ability to fluently speak Droyne (as the campaign puts it "...although the messages are in the Droyne language, all the characters appear to have gained the ability to speak Oynprith (a side effect of the telepathic flashbacks in the last adventure")). Near the end of the campaign there is a moment where Grandfather and his nemesis are vulnerable (or potentially so) and the players can come down on one side or the other. My players chose to side with Grandfather and after everything was done and they had escaped with him he had a conversation with them on the ship, only some of which the players themselves were party to at the time. Grandfather then left them, but before leaving he temporarily withheld memory of him surviving and the conversations they had had. The characters thought Grandfather to be dead.

Anyway, the characters went about their business trading and doing some wandering around but they kept noticing things about the Octagon Society everywhere they looked. For some reason it seemed important and they didn't know why. Being naturally inquisitive they followed up many leads, visited many places, and eventually found out that the planet they had been settled on following the Drinax campaign (like witness protection) had a hidden octagon tower, and under that, once they found it and explored it, was an Ancient base with a single working portal. The portal took them to a new Ancient base. This base looked very similar to the old D&D Barrier Peaks maps (hehe) and thanks to Jon Pintar (maps available on DriveThruRPG) I was able to set up the Fantasy Grounds table to take a Traveller party through Barrier Peaks, Vegepygmies became Chirpers, and I trawled through all the MgT material to find new animals to replace the D&D ones. It actually worked excellently - especially the little girl in the central white room who turned out to be the AI. Long story short, the players took a couple of years slowly working out how to fix the base, helped by droyne that popped through from some cloning facility to build up a workforce and family group.

The party could speak Droyne but I decided they could not read it, and the barefly functioning terminals in the library were in droyne written language. So the years that passed, were in part spent spending points learning the written language of the droyne to understand the manuals and instructions in front of them. I introduced "Engineering (ancient tech)" and "Science (ancient tech)" and "Electronics (ancient tech)" as skills to learn but they had to have the non Ancient versions at a higher level, and the written language at a higher level. Basically you had to build upon your common understanding, and use your grasp of the language, to work out how things worked, and therefore how to repair them (within reason).

When language got to 3 (it took a long time) I gave most of their points back and the 'ancient tech' skills went away. This represented them now many years later being conformable with the technology and the language. All in all I think the characters were on the base (hiding out from the rest of the universe) for four years. It was very comfortable, and they were learning cool new things. (plus it was somewhat fast-tracked as far as running the sessions was concerned).

In the middle somewhere Grandfather just popped in through a portal one day. He congratulated them on getting the base running "as they had agreed before he left them". When they looked blankly at him, he remembered that they did not remember, and freed up their brains. The backstory being that they had all discussed and agreed to go to the octagon tower on their home planet, go through the portal, and when all systems on the base were working Grandfather would be advised and he'd return to make them agents.

(Sorry for the long explanation, the shorter version should have been "they spend skill points understanding how things worked, and once competent, we moved on).

You asked:
How exactly do you prepare for encounters along the way? How do your spreadsheets look like? It seems this could be also extremely helpful in my campaign.
I think this touches a very crucial point in running the campaign: The campaign is epic and tons of ideas and adventure seeds are to be found between the pages, but for such a long journey, this is still not enough. It is impossible to address every possibility and also improvisation has its limits. For example, at some point the letters and numbers in the spreadsheets of star systems fail to give you new ideas, but the players choose this system for general overhaul and you want to make their stay more interesting...


It's still early days. The first function of the spreadsheet at the moment is to mimic sectors and subsectors (using merged cells and drawn hex objects) with a formula in each randomly determining for normal and rift hexes whether there is a planet there or not. The second function is to randomly generate (as per Great Rift rules) the systems in terms of star(s) and their types, the planets, and that's about it. Creating formula to create a system which I can then copy and paste into another tab means I can generate random subsectors in no time. I do cheat and create maps for my Fantasy Grounds table in PowerPoint (saved as png) by having a number of hexes that I can match to the spreadsheet. If I can work out where to put some screenshots I'll add a new reply linking them.

I have not worked beyond the stuff in Riftsedge Transit but am noting down ideas for things the party encounter randomly in between all the bits in the other books. I'm expecting to not do a lot more to be honest as there's already a huge amount to get through without adding more. However by having a bunch of single paragraph ideas, and a means of generating the mechanics of the star system (some of which - most - will just be boring), the gaps can be filled quite easily. I also have up my sleeve Droyne scientists looking at the scan results and pointing out a half dozen potentially interesting systems for scientific research each time the arrive in a new area of space. And for clarity, it is perfectly ok to have boring systems all over the place. Not every place the party visits has to be interesting, and that makes the interesting one stand out more (as long as you don't torture the players..... too much).
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby shammond42 » Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:01 pm

Nobody had a tracking sheet yet, so I started my own and thought I'd share progress here. It's a Google Sheet where the first part is set up like a character sheet for the ship. I've only done the crew stats so far.

Image

If you click the save button, that copies the data to a row on another tab that keeps the historic data.

Image

And that lets us generate a dashboard so we can see how the ship did over time! The radar charts show the current state of the crew, and the line graph shows historic data.

Image

Still a ton of work to do, but I'm pleased with the results so far.
Last edited by shammond42 on Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Tea Rex » Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:04 pm

Kulthea wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 3:08 pm
This is a long answer, but I hope worth it
Yes indeed, it was worth it. Thank you for the detailed account of the adventures of your crew. Very cool. Obviously, they have seen, learned and obtained a lot. And it seems you all had tons of fun. Especially the "crossover" of D&D with Traveller is something I would have liked to witness as a player.

I also like the idea of having a base. This will really help you setting up the encounters in the Near Side of Yonder. I'm racking my brain right now on how to get my team to run errands for a bunch of hillbillies and not fly straight on. Unfortunately, they are not that interested in exploring new peoples and cultures.
But still my initial question remains: Even if your players are doing all their exploration with a TL15 ship (which is still quite impressive) how do you make sure that they don't call their base for help once they encounter a problem they can not solve immediately themselves?
Kulthea wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 3:08 pm
If I can work out where to put some screenshots I'll add a new reply linking them.
Of yes, I would like to let myself be inspired by your maps. It sounds, like they can be done fast and easy. Exactly what I like. :)
Kulthea wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 3:08 pm
I have not worked beyond the stuff in Riftsedge Transit but am noting down ideas for things the party encounter randomly in between all the bits in the other books. I'm expecting to not do a lot more to be honest as there's already a huge amount to get through without adding more.
That is one of the things I love about this campaign: There are already a lot of scenarios and adventure seeds in the text and additionally it always inspires more ideas. It is my hope that in the future we can exchange some of these individual ideas in this thread.
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Tea Rex » Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:06 pm

shammond42 wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:01 pm
Still a ton of work to do, but I'm pleased with the results so far.
I like it too. Please keep us updated on further developments!
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby shammond42 » Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:53 pm

Oops, the first image broke. That's fixed now.
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby arcador » Fri Feb 12, 2021 8:48 am

I have yet to play it. Originally, we expected to play it when it was released, but Corona struck, it got delayed a bit and we started with DnD 5e. To be honest, we kind of exhausted the latter, so I expect the players are eager for something different (i.e. DR) after we wrap up the fantasy.

I have a question about a specific rule which Martin is dodging so far, and it is present in the Elemental cruiser, in Deepnight and in the preview of the new Mercenary.

It is about when you split up an existing division or create one from the whole crew. If you create "A team" the new division is likely to be better (has a positive DM to the roll).

Then you roll if the original-source division/crew lost cohesion due to the removal of personnel. THere it says, that if you have sourced an "A team" you get +2 DM to the check. Isn't that backward? Should the DM be negative, since we remove top personnel?
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Tea Rex » Wed Feb 17, 2021 9:56 pm

arcador wrote:
Fri Feb 12, 2021 8:48 am
it got delayed a bit and we started with DnD 5e. To be honest, we kind of exhausted the latter, so I expect the players are eager for something different (i.e. DR) after we wrap up the fantasy.
That's funny because we also passed the time until the release of the first books by playing DnD 5e. But our campaign ended and as nobody volunteered to offer another one, we started slowly with DR. To bridge the time, the crew had to do some final tests on a long maiden trip. I had to improvise a little bit, but it was a nice opportunity to introduce the crew.
arcador wrote:
Fri Feb 12, 2021 8:48 am
Then you roll if the original-source division/crew lost cohesion due to the removal of personnel. THere it says, that if you have sourced an "A team" you get +2 DM to the check. Isn't that backward? Should the DM be negative, since we remove top personnel?
I agree with your interpretation. This seems to be a mistake.
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Tea Rex » Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:01 pm

As many already wrote that they just started or are about to start playing the campaign, I dare to give some advice based on my own experience:
Think about which people will join the characters on the long journey.

Mongoose has already made some very good suggestions regarding some of the characters, many of whom will certainly make it aboard your expedition, but there are of course many more crew members in total. Many important positions still need to be filled.

Why do I think this is important? Initially, I didn't attach that much importance to this aspect of the campaign, because first there was the exciting background story, a great spaceship, and of course numerous cosmic wonders to marvel at. Especially the latter excited me the most. During the game, however, it became apparent that exploring cosmic oddities was cool, but that my players were particularly engaged when the scene involved people, no matter what the circumstances. And when you think about it, it's understandable: Interpersonal interaction, no matter the context, speaks to us and makes us react.

Of course, you can't go to the other extreme and turn the journey between the stars into a 500-person chamber drama. The right mix leads to success here and this is certainly a little different for each group of players.

Another advantage of having well-developed personalities on board, who have their own views, prejudices, quirks and perhaps dark secrets, is that over time stories with and around these people develop more or less by themselves without the GM having to contribute much.

So how do you get an interesting crew? Well, as I said before, you will find a base of people scattered throughout the campaign. Some will probably join the crew in the course of the journey, because it just happens or because you have to recruit a specialist with a certain talent. Or the characters may have a say in the initial composition of the crew. Then the referee can work together with the players to consider who they might bring on board and maybe even what quirks, nooks and crannies that person might have. We had a lot of fun doing that and still do, because it always happens that a new person suddenly steps into the spotlight. And of course, as a game master, you almost have the duty to add little peculiarities and secrets to the lives of the crew members, which the players will get to know in the course of the journey.

And the last option to come up with exciting crew members could happen through an exchange of ideas here in the forum. 8)
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Old School » Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:08 pm

I had a thought that a “Personalities of Deepnight Revelation” would make &for a good TAS product. Lots of fleshed out. pCs that the referee could insert along the way as needed.
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby shammond42 » Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:24 pm

Old School wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:08 pm
I had a thought that a “Personalities of Deepnight Revelation” would make &for a good TAS product. Lots of fleshed out. pCs that the referee could insert along the way as needed.
I was thinking this too. I was also thinking about making a fan site with a collection of DNR resources like this. I don't know if people would be interested in contributing to something like that or not. The TAS rules prohibit software ( :( ) but I don't think web resource like a blog or wiki would be a problem. Thoughts?
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby Old School » Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:31 am

shammond42 wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:24 pm

I was thinking this too. I was also thinking about making a fan site with a collection of DNR resources like this. I don't know if people would be interested in contributing to something like that or not. The TAS rules prohibit software ( :( ) but I don't think web resource like a blog or wiki would be a problem. Thoughts?
TAS is specifically for selling a product on DriveThruRPG. If you’re putting a free resource on a blog, I wouldn’t see that as an issue, provided you carefully limit how much of Mongoose’s material shows up. It wouldn’t be covered by the TAS, which allows you to use Mongoose’s material (seting ships, NPCs, etc) in your own work.
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Re: Deepnight Revelation - GMs Thread

Postby shammond42 » Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:24 am

Old School wrote:
Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:31 am
shammond42 wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:24 pm

I was thinking this too. I was also thinking about making a fan site with a collection of DNR resources like this. I don't know if people would be interested in contributing to something like that or not. The TAS rules prohibit software ( :( ) but I don't think web resource like a blog or wiki would be a problem. Thoughts?
TAS is specifically for selling a product on DriveThruRPG. If you’re putting a free resource on a blog, I wouldn’t see that as an issue, provided you carefully limit how much of Mongoose’s material shows up. It wouldn’t be covered by the TAS, which allows you to use Mongoose’s material (seting ships, NPCs, etc) in your own work.
Apologies, I didn't realize TAS was limited to DriveThruRPG. Makes sense now that I've thought about it. Even within those limits an online resource could be useful.

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