09 August 2013

Thoughts on Pen & Paper: Player Interactions

One of my players in our sci-fi pen & paper campaign complained that there wasn't enough player-interaction going on in the game. Being as he was the pilot, that was true. Being a fair GM, I thought I needed to change that. Being also a somewhat rough GM that I am, things went bad quickly. Well, the goal is for everyone at the table to have fun. Most things did work out. Read on to find out how things went!

Some people say that the pilot of a sci-fi campaign should better be an NPC, as all they have to do is fly everyone else from A to B and whenever they get action, everyone else is just strapped into their seats anyways. I usually try to levie that by having the others busy with quick-repairs and fending off boarders forming from the very walls of their own ship. Yeah, it's a rather high-tech setting. Now over the past few sessions, there really wasn't much dangerous piloting or space-combat to be done, just exploring an ancient tunnel system in a planet/optical computer/religious site. And they always left the pilot behind so yes, he got bored.

So I started with, when the rest of the crew returned to the ship and they started loading up loot into their cargo-bay, having the pilot see different stuff than everyone else. The implications were clear, as the pilot spent most of his time linked to the ships computer he would be the first target to any sort of cyber-attack. As the crew spend most of their free time in a VR simulation of whatever they like, the rest would fall too but they hadn't had a break for a while. So the pilot is going crazy, seeing an intruder who, after some testing by the chief of security, isn't there although she ship does react as if they were. The result is that the pilot gets knocked out with a phaser and restrained in the med-bay, where he spends the rest of the session, while the rest of the crew shuts down the computer core and fights the two escaped prisoners whom they had brought from another system.

I do agree that I kind of pushed my pilot into open rebellion against his comrades. He got phasered and forced to inactivity for most of the session, which was a bummer for him as a player but at least everyone else got to interact a lot with all the suspicion, threats, pulling of rank and discussion appropriate for the tense situation of being in a ship with a computer compromised by a vastly superior enemy.

I will have to find ways of doing this without the group restraining each other or going all-out PvP in the future. After all, we're all at the table to enjoy ourselves.

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