Trinity: Planning and running the game ~ Part 1

My current game is being run for two players I have known for years and have gamed with in many different games and settings as both GM and player. We recently felt the urge to play in a science fiction setting, and after some discussion, chose Trinity over some of our other choices – namely Prime Directive, Blue Planet, and BSG. I intend to give a blow-by-blow description of how the game takes shape, and when done, expect it to show how far interaction, and actual play can cause plots, plans, and preparations to deviate from initial expectations.

Choosing the Game: We have been a gaming group for years and a number of us have traded off GM duties on a more or less monthly cycle during that time. For the most part, stories have been set to run for four 5-6 hour sessions, and we alternate games, or in some cases alternate time periods within the same shared universe in one game. Over the last two years, we have enjoyed a lot of hours in a shared Aberrant/Adventure!/Trinity setting. In terms of time spent, the majority has been with the Aberrant era of the Series. 

During those same two years or so, we have also been discussing story ideas for other systems and have, of course, done short-term games with all sorts of systems and genres, such as Spirit of the Century, Mutants and Masterminds, Fudge/Fate, Palladium Fantasy, and an aborted attempt at Serenity. Prime Directive blended directly with Star Fleet Battles is perennially on the back-burner but never sees the light of day. Similar discussions of doing something innovative with BSG come and go, but fail to materialize.

In one of these, “What shall we play when this story ends?” discussions, a proposal of mine to try a new Trinity Series, unrelated to the existing one was accepted. Although there were already a lot of proposals on the table, this one was probably chosen because we have been very busy and this way we would not have to learn a new system or setting. That is not to say that Trinity is not exciting for us, but that the initial choice was perhaps grounded less in enthusiasm for the proposal than in a desire to keep the game going.

The initial proposal: The original suggestion was very basic: space-faring adventure (fighter or Varg pilots) with strong themes of responsibility, and an emphasis on heroism against a clear enemy. For quite a while, I had been feeling a need to try running something without all the layers of conspiracy, mystery, and moral ambiguity that a lot of the other settings I run require. I had tried to do that via Aces&Eights, but the western motif did not really click with the players, so we shelved that in lieu of Mage. I tried to keep Mage simple, small-scale, and oriented more toward recovering and brokering ancient antiquities a la Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones, but after a few fun character spawned tangents and the usual need for improvised plot expansion, found myself back in the same old pattern of “This is a World of Darkness…”   So – when that story ended, I proposed a Trinity game, based around the lives of two fighter or VARG pilots, set against the backdrop of humanity’s reclamation of the extra solar colonies and the outbreak of war versus the Colony. Simple enough.

The Actual Proposal: I took a week and organized my thoughts, and my mental notes on my players. I put forth the following proposal for them to approve and use for a foundation for beginning the character creation process.

The proposed series for Trinity would begin with the characters in the space operations training program conducted by the Aeon Trinity. Graduation involves work off-world, primarily as pilots and security forces (think paramilitary organization, top-tier equipment and training, good pay, lots of danger and travel, lots of variety: cargo one day, aberrant raid the next, guard a compound the next, fly a shuttle to the moon and back for several months, take on terrorists one afternoon before a romantic lunch with a fiancée, etc, etc.).
 
My intent is to run a Prelude that begins prior to each character’s activation as a Psion, and has a set of stories and short vignettes which will highlight different aspects of character, employment, kewl powerz, setting, and which then end in the ‘modern day’ with characters being mid-level operatives suitable for a special response team required to use all the cool toys like VARGs and Biotech Space fighters. Woohoo~ At that point, the Series would really take off, with full-length plots and stories, etc.
 
So far I have planned the following:
 
Story 1: Boot Camp (1 session)
Story 2: Milk Run (1-2 sessions)
Story 3: Psion! (2 sessions)
Story 4: Storming the Heavens (1-2 sessions)

…Also as we move through these 4 introductory preludes, your characters will experience the difference in treatment they receive as normal recruits in the program, to possible latent psions, to identified latents, to actual psions.
 
As I am in the mood for space battles, powered armour, and holy screaming death from blasters and psionic might, I feel it might be best if we went for the splashier Aptitudes (Psychokinesis or Electrokinesis). I also heartily support each of your characters having an Auxiliary Mode from any of the other Aptitudes (with Clairsentience or Telepathy being highly recommended).  Obviously, with the sort of suggestions I am making, character generation should take place together with much discussion, soul-searching, and vigorous note-writing… Gentlemen, how do you respond to this proposal?

We discussed the points contained above, and the methods I would use for character progress from untrained recruit to starting character. We also discussed a variant rules set for dogfights and other forms of aerial combat in atmospheric and non-atmospheric environments (this will be posted separately). Ultimately, we agreed on the following… or so I thought.

Further Thoughts on Trinity
 
Gents,
 
In discussions since the first message went out, some points were raised that I have taken on board. Some of these points have also given rise to further thoughts of my own. All of these items are, in no specific order:
 
That players experience the progression of characters from 0 level, to trainees, to special trainees, to novices, to journeymen
 
That players can learn to adapt to the setting and the characters in easily digested steps
 
That Aptitudes be determined randomly according to a table set by the established population percentages listed in the game material
 
That latent psions be given the choice to be activated or not
 
That latent psions might be offered a choice of activation from several sources or just one, but might not be assured of activation in the Aptitude for which they show latency (Be it known that not all latents display a tendency toward a specific Aptitude – only some do. Those that do, tend to be more powerful than normal once activated IF activated in that aptitude)
 
Players rolling certain aptitudes will have an option to reroll. (Quantakinesis, Teleportation, the same as the other player) Example: obtaining the result of Teleportation comes with the caveat of meeting the minimum traits and the result effect on personality that that Aptitude requires. Not wishing to purchase those traits, or portray the resulting type of character (strong will, extremely psi-sensitive) will be valid reason for a reroll.
 
The Storyteller wishes to run a game involving space-faring, piloting, piracy, rescue missions on hostile worlds, blasters, and paramilitary action with a distinct lack of conspiracy and dark secrets behind the public face of beneficent corporations. Character types or player decisions which run contrary to that general story flow, will likely be met with a friendly benching of the character and its inclusion in a broad file of NPCs or TBPLPCs (to be played later PC). Example: character with no piloting or engineering skill, preferring to work with their order than Aeon = Good-Bye versus a character with no piloting skill, but mean heavy weapons (ship gunnery) and survival skills = welcome aboard matey. Non-psion = good-bye. Unactivated psion = possible hello, depending on the ability to be wooed and other levels of utility the character may or may not bring. OMMV. If the players do not want to play a game of space-faring, piloting, piracy, rescue missions on hostile worlds, blasters, and paramilitary action with a distinct lack of conspiracy and dark secrets behind the public face of beneficent corporations, they really need to let him know sooner rather than later as he is writing a lot of stuff in preparation.
 
Fun in the game is likely wholly dependent on the characters making the journey from a 10-man squad in boot camp with no psi powers, to Aeon Affiliated Psions (Gifted) thinking of themselves as a 2-man team assigned to or assisted with a variety of dangerous missions a la James Bond. Loyalty, banter, and heroism are essential.
 
Other thoughts?

 

Planning went forward from this template, and I sent out a list of suggested viewing to prime the pumps of imagination, and help establish a baseline for the fundamental concepts of the universe (effects of gravity, if people in space can or cannot hear you scream, airlocks 101, cool versus stupid ‘blaster’ noises, etc. You know, the important stuff). That list was:

Outland
Space Above&Beyond
Predator
Starship Troopers
Firefly
Mission Impossible 2
Star Trek: Enterprise

We kept in touch during the planning phases via e-mail and Messenger. All documents pertaining to the game were kept at our shared live office space and as the time approached for the game to commence the list of files there came to include short fiction pieces which gave brief snapshots of life in Aeon and the Legions, the setting for the Boot Camp, technology in action, and a look at some of the NPCs and plot points relating to the initial location in France the characters might encounter. Timelines and other background information were made available as well.

The final proposal, once all the comments were in went like this:

What your character would be signing up for:
 
Seeking employment with the Aeon Trinity would in many ways be like signing up to work for a Space-Faring, Globe-Spanning UNICEF, bundled with FedEx, the Secret Service, and the Pony Express.
 
The Trinity is striving for a brighter future where each has the chance to reach their maximum potential and further the advancement of humanity. The Earth is a mixed bag of war, wonder, and wasteland, and the stellar frontier is equally fraught with danger and discovery.
 
Small wonder that the Trinity looks for young, motivated, intelligent, and healthy people to sign up to further its goals, for modest financial, but vast experiential rewards. Opportunities exist for normal 9-5 employment as clerks, and data analysts, accountants, and logistics officers. Better opportunities exist for those who have what it takes to work as Associates (freelance specialists). The best opportunities exist for those who have what is required to become Operatives.
 
THAT is what your character is signing up for – Operative. With a level of specialist training not unlike SWAT or SEAL or US MARINE, Aeon Trinity Operatives serve as security forces in areas where there is no security, law where there is no law, search and rescue teams where there is danger and disaster, and yes…. as soldiers against the forces – both alien and aberrant – that seek to stop humanity’s plunge into the depths of space. It is a chance to change the world, and maybe even the universe… all while piloting the hottest ships and VARGS known to man… and getting paid!
 
Exploration, Protection, Mail Delivery, Education – You name it! Your experience in an Aeon Trinity Ops Team will be boundless!

In the next installment, I will go over the creation of the characters, the initial plotting of the series, and the preparation of the Preludes.

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  1. […] come to life. I will comment on this Series more completely in a subsequent series of posts called Trinity: Planning and running the game. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Writing Prompt: Oct. 12Day 28 – Exodus […]



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