Trinity: Planning and running the game~ pt.3

Before the story began, each player had played in a Trinity game before (set aboard the Horus, a prototype for the Leviathan jumpships which I had devised to use as an introduction for a much larger group to the setting), and had read through the color-section of the core rules, in addition to a set of short fiction that I had prepared. Each piece was a scene or two of descriptive writing which served to highlight one small aspect of the Trinity setting. Most contained small hints or seeds for some of the potential directions I was preparing for the series to head. Some put the tensions with the New Ottoman Empire as a backdrop while serving up a little bit of aerial color, others showed the horrors of life in the wasteland of France amid horrors, bandits, taint, radiation, and other deadly wastes. Most showed the varied roles that Psions can play in this new world, on the dawn of a new age balanced between war and great discovery.

The two characters seemed to reflect and project that theme nicely, so it was with no small sense of pleasure and satisfaction that we moved into the second prelude, shifted the characters’ training to an Aeon outpost in Mars orbit referred to by Operatives as ‘the PoD’ as an abbreviation for the Pit of Despair.

A leadership training exercise placed our Turkish, pacifist PC in command of a Peregrin with a troubled maintenance history, and given a mission to deliver equipment and educational material to Absolute Zero, and medical and other supplies to drop off  at an Aeon research outpost elsewhere in the Belt. Some of the crew quarters were converted to cargo space, partially by necessity, and partly just to provide a more interesting test of leadership ability. I prepared a variety of little, and very mundane, things which could go awry should the characters themselves not generate enough stimulation.

Due to time constraints created by the Preludes each taking about twice as long as planned, and covering deeper territory than expected, and the looming threat of a long period of overtime and shifts on ‘game day’ I found myself wanting to alter the plotted flow and sequence of events quite significantly. A sudden decision by the commanding officer to station members of the squad in positions which were their weakest, in order to shore up and broaden their skill base, gave me the push I needed to provide an encounter with pirates that I had planned to use much later, likely after the visit to Absolute Zero. The friction and interaction resulting from that command decision gave me enough of what I had been looking for, that I could afford to downplay the importance of AZ to the Prelude, and move on to focus on a ‘memorable event.’

It was here that things began to get a little peculiar. The character in charge began to react a little more strongly than expected to the scene as it was portrayed, and this strong reaction followed all further mention or interaction with this plot in subsequent scenes – to the point where the other player had to enlist the aid of the NPC members of the squad to capture and sedate him.

What made this odd was not the decision to have the character crack or grow unstable under pressure – in fact, that was in and of itself a refreshing route to go. What made it odd was the lack of communication between the player and myself about this turn of events. My queries were met only with cryptic answers or no response at all. As this was being conducted via Messenger, that is less odd than it sounds. In a face to face game, I doubt there would have been any confusion at all.

However, that one player decision changed how the course of the series would run once again.

The next Prelude was to be about their activation as Psions. We had decided to have Aptitudes be determined by random roll to provide a greater sense of change and discovery to the experience. Both characters wound up being prime candidates for activation as Electrokinetics. The Prelude would focus on their time in Orgotek’s highly secure facility in the FSA. The sudden appearance of mental instability made the done-deal of activation, a dwindling possibility  – at least as far as Orgotek was concerned.

When play finally concluded, the characters were waiting to get their call to the Prometheus chamber. One character was eating it up, the other was alienating the handlers and trainers alike. As I closed the most recent session, the characters were on the eve of entering the Prometheus Chamber, and I as the ST was left with a decision: move on with the Prelude as it was intended, or allow the Prelude to continue to alter and radically change the events of the series to come in light of there being such a low chance that Orgotek would be willing to activate the character in question.

In normal play, there would be no question of just going along and providing the reaction of the universe to the actions and interactions of the characters. There is no issue there at all. Why this becomes a concern is that these events were intended to be a short exploration of how the characters got to be a certain way… a way we had predetermined, and for which  the initial agreement to play had come.

As that last episode came to its end, I was losing my sense of cooperative play, and feeling more like a hapless first-timer to a western theme bar, trying out the mechanical bull.

As predicted, work did rear its ugly and time-consuming head, like a tsunami of tedium, and we have not returned to play since. I have had significant time to think, and have decided that activation by the electrokinetic order is absolutely out of the question for the character, and we will have to deal with activation via another route – if at all. In having made that decision, I guess I am retconning these preludes into being the series itself, and foregoing almost everything which had been planned.

What would you do/have done?

In the next installment, I will go over the background material, the fiction, and look at the characters and some snippets of play in greater detail.

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