chopping parts out of a module?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 10, 2009 - 7:06am
I've been considering chopping the caverns section of Crash on Volturnus as i just dont see how it advances the story. Maybe its just meant to consume more equipment and supplies to get the PCs to a more desparate position so that the quick death is a real challenge. I had a player decide to not take chances with the quickdeath and drew his laser pistol dialled the SEU setting to max and with its ROF of 2 pretty much turned the whole Ul-mor manhood ceremony into a 1 round anti-climax so maybe the caverns before the quickdeath encounter is suppose to use up supplies of ammo?

I've thought about each section of all three modules in this campaign and I dont really see much that could be chopped to move things along- most everything serves a purpose even the ABC quest at the start of Star Spawn.
Though I kind of dont like the linear crawl through the underground of Volkos where the only way to the central command center of the dying eorna civilization is through the insane assylum! I belive I'd prefer a simple above ground exploration of Volkos culminating in a meeting with Jamison and the eorna elders. Yet the trap in the Volkos underground set by the supposedly insane eorna is a pretty good encounter I'd rather not waste it either.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!
Comments:

Georgie's picture
Georgie
August 10, 2009 - 7:35am
"jedion357" wrote:
I had a player decide to not take chances with the quickdeath and drew his laser pistol dialled the SEU setting to max and with its ROF of 2 pretty much turned the whole Ul-mor manhood ceremony into a 1 round anti-climax


Ok, so what's the problem? You want to leave a crappy dungeon crawl in because a player was smart? If there's a part of a module that you don't agree with, change it. As referee, you are GOD. Treat the modules as a set of guidelines. Use what you like, change what you don't. If the rite of manhood was anti-climatic, force the characters to do it with only a loincloth and a spear. Make the exploration of the insane asylum a side quest. Bend the rules wherever necessary to make it challenging and fun. This is what your players want.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.    * Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
August 10, 2009 - 2:21pm

Those modules DRAIN ammo.

Frankly, I don't know how it can be done without extra love to the PCs.  Not only did I give the party the 10 Powerclips from the Serena Dawn (which - refs please note - MUST be found) but I also threw in 10 Gyrojet pistol clips for the Gyro guy in the party.

THEN I allowed the PCs to loot ALL of the emergency kits, which I also raised to 12, from the lifeboat.

And still, they were almost completely out of ammo by the time of the Pirate Outpost in the second module.  Final clips each.  It was scary.


If your PC had missed, or goosed out on his damage rolls, then the Quickdeath may have made it more climactic.  But the guy got lucky.  Good for him.


Will's picture
Will
August 10, 2009 - 4:36pm
Georgie wrote:
"jedion357" wrote:
I had a player decide to not take chances with the quickdeath and drew his laser pistol dialled the SEU setting to max and with its ROF of 2 pretty much turned the whole Ul-mor manhood ceremony into a 1 round anti-climax


Ok, so what's the problem? You want to leave a crappy dungeon crawl in because a player was smart? If there's a part of a module that you don't agree with, change it. As referee, you are GOD. Treat the modules as a set of guidelines. Use what you like, change what you don't. If the rite of manhood was anti-climatic, force the characters to do it with only a loincloth and a spear. Make the exploration of the insane asylum a side quest. Bend the rules wherever necessary to make it challenging and fun. This is what your players want.


One question I've always had concerning the ritual of manhood: Where's the quickdeath's mate?!

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 10, 2009 - 9:31pm
I had also considered developing a short piece where the PC have to capture a new quickdeath for the next group of Ul-mor bucks to prove themselves which would prep them for the edestakai's portion of the ABC quest but then I thought it would be redundant. So then I thought I could work in a conversation where an Ul-mor explains how then track and capture a quickdeath. Thus revealing crucial secrets to simplify that process and see if the PCs remember them when the ABC quest pops.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 16, 2016 - 7:43pm
Hi Jedion, I like your other postings about making the caverns more of a way to introduce the Eorna somehow with some ruins or something. To me, it always seemed too D&D like with a bit of the Bilbo Baggins wandering around the troll caves.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 17, 2016 - 3:36am
JCab747 wrote:
Hi Jedion, I like your other postings about making the caverns more of a way to introduce the Eorna somehow with some ruins or something. To me, it always seemed too D&D like with a bit of the Bilbo Baggins wandering around the troll caves.

But what has he got in his filthy little pocketes?

The caverns are strangely rectangular in shape/layout, their linear, and there is only the one path.

I've been in a few caverns myself, Carlsbad being perhaps the most famous, and not a one resembled those in the module. Which poses the question of does it matter? We have a page that is 8.5x11 in portrait layout in the magazine and that's the space available for the adventure we're publishing so we force the map to fit that, after all the players aren't really going to see it, the referee is. Do aesthetics matter? Should the map be realistic or beautiful even when the consumer is just the referee?

Note: I once picked up a module and was fairly excited about it till reading it. The castle was forced to fit the 8.5x11 page and was severely stupid looking. That and other features turned me off to ever using it. 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 17, 2016 - 5:55am
jedion357 wrote:
JCab747 wrote:
... t always seemed too D&D like with a bit of the Bilbo Baggins wandering around the troll caves.

But what has he got in his filthy little pocketes?

.... 


Unfortunately the characters don't get much of a chance to pick up anything useful, unless you count the crazed maintenance robot, mop and bucket -- seriously, a mop and bucket?

Even the pirate NPC and the Ulmor infeced with mutating fungus aren't much help, unless you change them. And then there's the lava pit of death reminiscent of Indiana Jones.

But, it is from the designers of D&D... Hey, didn't Laura submit the Dropper from D&D in one of the magazines? Maybe it could fit in there instead of the intelligent Magma Monster... of course the Sy Fy channel has its magma tarantula movies, so maybe a magma monster makes sense. On third thought...
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
August 17, 2016 - 6:23am
^There's a working laser and powerpack (drained, but still an additional weapon that can be recharged)

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 17, 2016 - 10:16am
ChrisDonovan wrote:
^There's a working laser and powerpack (drained, but still an additional weapon that can be recharged)


Oh, that's right. I don't have the module in front of me... yeah, I could look it up online... but there still seemed to be very little reason for the pirate and the robot to be stuck down in the caverns, oh, let me look it up...

OK. There is the "place of healing" on page 28 where the characters meet an Eorna but are promptly hypnotized into forgetting it. Maybe the room should obviously be very old and was made by an advanced culture -- such as a flat concrete floor, metal walls, glowing crystal lanterns or something.

I'd say make the slightly deranged Phalen the Black (page 29) a bit more of a complex character who might actually cooperate with the characters for a while until he gets a chance to betray them. Of course, all that is up to the referee to decide.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 17, 2016 - 10:25am
The caverns are easily skipped IMO.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 17, 2016 - 11:32am
jedion357 wrote:
The caverns are easily skipped IMO.


Very true.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 17, 2016 - 5:04pm
Ok, to replace the caverns: crazy out of his mind pirate and malfunctioning robot are encountered at a wrecked vehicle (explorer, air car whatever). Pirate has gone hermit and wrecked vehicle is his house. In vehicle is a drained laser weapon and a depleted med kit with 1d5 dose of bio-cort as well as a mop and bucket. This replaces 90% of significant finds in caverns except the fungus infected Ul-mor. Laser weapon has no power because pirate needs to keep his robot "Friday" going and has cannibalized all sources of SEU power. One of his motives with the PC's is obtaining new sources of power. Depleted med kit is a sop to replace "place of healing". Pirate is nuts and unstable and will snap and attack anyone tampering with the Malfunctioning robot. He will promise aid in exchange for SEU sources bit will betray PCs is he journeys with them to outpost or pirate town. 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 17, 2016 - 5:21pm
jedion357 wrote:
Ok, to replace the caverns: crazy out of his mind pirate and malfunctioning robot are encountered at a wrecked vehicle (explorer, air car whatever). Pirate has gone hermit and wrecked vehicle is his house. In vehicle is a drained laser weapon and a depleted med kit with 1d5 dose of bio-cort as well as a mop and bucket. This replaces 90% of significant finds in caverns except the fungus infected Ul-mor. Laser weapon has no power because pirate needs to keep his robot "Friday" going and has cannibalized all sources of SEU power. One of his motives with the PC's is obtaining new sources of power. Depleted med kit is a sop to replace "place of healing". Pirate is nuts and unstable and will snap and attack anyone tampering with the Malfunctioning robot. He will promise aid in exchange for SEU sources bit will betray PCs is he journeys with them to outpost or pirate town. 


Neat!
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
August 17, 2016 - 6:33pm
Need more than that in the medkit given how beat up player characters normally are at that point.  The healing room is supposed to ensure their survival  A mere 10 STA each may not be enough.

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
August 17, 2016 - 8:16pm
That's kind of the problem. We all know how players will do the darnedest things that as a GM you might not have seen coming. I ran some through that fight against the quickdeath and the quickdeath fumbled it's initiative roll and every player got to hit it first with a spear or something. That poor clumsy quickdeath died quick alright, like it just ran through a gauntlet of spears and impaled itself.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
August 18, 2016 - 5:16am
^I dont' see that it's necessarily a "problem".  It could easily have made its Initiiative roll and mauled several characters before it was brought down.  The point is that ver limited opportunities for healing, and facing a vicious, high-value monster, the PCs on average need to be a full STA going into such a fight.

The tension of the whole module series balances on the idea of extremely limited resources, including STA recovery ability.  That's why the healing room is there.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
August 18, 2016 - 5:06pm
My kids still remember that pirate.  They were sneaking up on him and he was mumbling to himself "I don't want to be a fungus. I don't want to be a fungus."  They knocked him out, left him some food, took the robot and then went on to find the fungus.  All I have to do is say "I don't want to be a fungus" and they start laughing.  We played through that years ago.
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JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 18, 2016 - 6:23pm
TerlObar wrote:
My kids still remember that pirate.  They were sneaking up on him and he was mumbling to himself "I don't want to be a fungus. I don't want to be a fungus."  They knocked him out, left him some food, took the robot and then went on to find the fungus.  All I have to do is say "I don't want to be a fungus" and they start laughing.  We played through that years ago.


 Foot in mouthLaughingCoolKissSmileSurprisedWinkTongue outMoney mouthInnocentSmile
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 20, 2016 - 4:43am
I made it 1d5 bio-cort on the principle of not giving away the store or being Monty Haul. The healing room heals them up without giving them any new resources to add to equipment lists. 

What if the pirate encounter is different? What if they meet a pirate(s) on an equal footing? Or the are totally hammered by critters and all but one of the PCs are unconscious. 

Pirates are looking for them and one finds them at this point. Except he turns out to have a conscience. In a past life time he was a Ground Fleet infantry medic and he heals the PCs. He's not going to turn them in this time and advises them to hide in the mountains some where. Next time with other pirates around he will have to shoot them.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
August 20, 2016 - 6:27am
That works, more or less.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 20, 2016 - 6:33am
And he makes for an interesting NPC that could be captured during the storming of the pirate town. 

Naturally the PLayers will want to turn him and for a time he will aid them. However, he's a criminal wanted by Star Law with a price on his head so assuming a successful outcome for the Battle of Volkos that is about the time he'll bail. 

This could set him up as a long running NPC criminal contact. 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
August 20, 2016 - 9:29am
How exactly do you bail while stuck on a planet full of beings you tortured and enslaved? Even if this pirate did not actually do it the inhabitants of Volturnus are not likely to make the distinction.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

iggy's picture
iggy
August 20, 2016 - 9:55am
There has to be some cinematic betrayal moment and his use of some stashed secret pirate craft to escape.  something like an air car or plane to another base on the othe side of the planet and pickup months later by other pirates.  Long live the Star Devil.

Then there is always the question if this guy might even be the Star Devil.  Innocent
-iggy

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 20, 2016 - 3:29pm
rattraveller wrote:
How exactly do you bail while stuck on a planet full of beings you tortured and enslaved? Even if this pirate did not actually do it the inhabitants of Volturnus are not likely to make the distinction.


The "Volturnus, Planet of Mystery" module does make this one point:

"Any space pirates taken prisoner during the battle will be claimed by the Edestekai and executed in the traditional manner reserved for blasphemers."

But then, the next paragraph reads:

"Pirate prisoners will be able to give the party details about the pirate mining operation..."

Kind of hard to get information from someone if he knows that he's going to die.

So, if the players refuse to let the peanut heads execute the pirates... Do the Edestekai declare war on them next? Or do they somehow let the pirates "escape." Here, we'll fly you out to the desert and see if the Ul-Mor are going to help you....
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 20, 2016 - 5:31pm
This guy is a doctor and he can prove himself by performing the especially difficult surgery on one of the edestakai. PCs say so that this one NPC aided them could be enough? 

As for the guy bailling, if the authorities are showing up after the battle then it will be wise for him to do so. He might even leave a PC a note, "Sorry, got to run. Price on my head and all. See ya around the Frontier some time."
A note like that should make him a NPC contact in the underworld that can be trotted out from time to time. 

The players will understand he's a bad guy but he's a bad guy with a heart if gold that helped them once. 

Or make it a female and play up the heart of gold movie trope/cliche that usually applies to prostitutes with a heart of gold. 

Ultimately, it's a big planet and there could be stashes of pirate equipment out there. If he waits till after the battle to jet with a stashed shuttle then it's not much of a betrayal as he could clearly have avoided the battle. 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
August 20, 2016 - 5:43pm
So the pirate is a Doctor AND a spaceship pilot?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 20, 2016 - 6:10pm
ChrisDonovan wrote:
So the pirate is a Doctor AND a spaceship pilot?
well he started out in the original post as a former Ground Fleet infantry medic. Things have rabbit trailed as people posed questions

But maybe the infantry medic  story is a lie. Maybe he was a corporate mercenary. Or maybe he is the star  devil. Maybe he's just a doctor who goes to ground for awhile till he can find a way off planet latter on. 

He can do a skin graft and cut out the skin with the star devil tattoo then approach a CFM captain for a ride off planet. Although, his ultimate escape from Volturnus need not be explained. Some things can be simply ruled to have happened 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!