Reflections on Flatlined


Spoilers ahead to the Flatlined adventure.

I've only used the MgT 2e rules for 2300AD in the past. Recently, I set out to run Flatlined (from the Great Rift boxed set) on Roll20. I've always liked the conciet of the amnesiac opening to a scenario ever since playing Sandman back in the 80s. It's done well in Apocalypse Cthulhu (Trail of Cthulhu) and The Demolished Ones (Fate).

I had considered using Fate or even GURPS so the PCs could be built in play as their memory recovered. Luckily, the new Traveller Companion arrived in time to offer a similar approach for MgT.

Since this was to be a one-shot, I used some of the pictures of the pre-gens from the starter set and stated up only the basic attributes, no skills. We started play with the PCs waking in the low berth, confused and afraid. Initially only their oldest memories came back. Name, background and culture etc. At that point I presented a handout showing a subset of the background packages (Companion p12). This got the players describing their initial memories and skills. One player selected belter which comes with Profession (belter) 2. This was enough of prompt to recognize the general layout of a Small-hauler. I think the other two went for colonists.

Exploration of the ship (using the isometric diagram) gave the player a chance to try out some basic skill checks and get used to the system. This was a cautious search with a fair amount of atmosphere (added to by the leaking water and shifting deck). I emphasized the cloudy liquid in the syringes was unique to the low berths that had been occupied. It's worth giving this clue out rather than allowing a dice roll to miss it. It's important later.

Eventually the PCs made it out and to dry land. Here, with the release of tension, the PCs recovered more memories. This time they could choose from a subset of the Career packages (p16). We ended up with an Agent, a Scout and a Medic. They also, individually, had to role a d6 (odds or evens) to determine if they had a vague memory of being pursued or pursuing something as their motivation for Travelling. I asked the player to think up some details. The Medic decided he was looking for his sister who'd shown psi powers and had fled to the Island cluster to avoid persecution. The Scout was hired to find a missing heirloom and the Agent to recover stolen blue prints. None of them, of course, knew why they ended up in a Smallhauler, but it help give them some motivation (besides survival).

Next was the march to PS9. The players had been relatively open to what happened (accident or not) until they found the body of David. Suspicion started to fester. Had they been abandoned?

At the station (just as night was falling) the hurried warnings to take cover held off their questions. Hambley (the pilot of the small hauler) is perfectly setup to take the initial heat. Bluff and confident, they players took an instant dislike to him. I allowed only a brief time to meet the people of PS9 and hear their stories before the first sighting of the creepers. There's quite a few different types in the module, but I only used two. Thinkers and Killers. More would have been confusing. Following the direction of module, the curious behavior of the Thinkers and protective/violent nature of the Killers worked well. The players had decided on a none-violent approach until the first Thinker started chewing on a power cable then fear took over and they started shooting. The limited weapons and ammo also added to the sense of desperation. I'm not always a fan of tracking ammo, but it really added to the game here.

After the first wave was repelled the players had more time to explore the camp. The Medic checked the med supplied and discovered the syringes (similar cloudy liquid). This sent paranoia sky high!

The night continued on with two more waves while the players tried to fix up the buggies (chain task) and hold off the creepers.

It was grim business and not everyone made it. But they got Telford to spill the beans (as much as he knew) with a promise to get him out. By dawn only the players, Anson and Telford were left to ride out.

I'd created a basic hex map (using of the route to PS10 (nearest station) over 250k away. I used a combination of Across the Bright Side (ATV power consumption, food units), Mission to Mithril (mishap table) and Forbidden Lands rpg (travel rules - Navigation roll, Drive roll, Survival roll) to add tension to the journey.

Grass land = Average drive roll
Hills = difficult
Woods = very difficult

1 buggy has 150 power points.
2 hexes = 20 points.
A failed drive role = double power consumption.
Failed by 6 = double power and roll on mishap table.

This strategic, resource management part, after the paranoia and combat, really added another dimension to the adventure and made it feel epic.

Overall, a great adventure! Players loved it. I also think the Traveller Companion really delivered on its promise.
I'm not really sure. I think it's pretty easy to tailor it to any size. I had 3 players and it worked out well. You could easily dial up or down the threat level. For a smaller group then add a few more skill points/packages. It could even work for 1 player if your mainly interested in the suspense and mystery side of the adventure, with more role playing than combat. For a larger group then you can always add more encounters in the travel to PS9 or more creeper during the siege.
Thanks for comments. I've got TWO products I may have to dig into when I get the ready cash. Wanna get the Cruiser Material from Martin J. Dougherty, and now this one...

HalC said:
Just out of curiosity, how many people is the adventure originally planned for?

I ran it with four and it went very well. There always seemed to be something to do for each of them. The opening montage was great. Each of them was asking questions, exploring the heck out of the ship. It was a super-fun and engaging sequence.