Saturday Seed – 8 (Serenity)

This seed is being planted for Serenity.

If your group of characters is shipless, or otherwise does not engage in much world hopping, please disregard this entry, it will be of no gorram use to you and yours,了解?

The Seed: “It’s getting so’s a fella can’t tell who’s who anymore!”

Theme: misdirection, lies, deceit, dishonesty, a lack of forthrightness, excessive vagueness

Setting: The ship, and at least two ports of call: 1 of convenience to start, the other based entirely on what goes on in play

Set-up: Money is very tight, and the crew are preparing to leave wherever they are and head into the black for more work. Perhaps they have just completed work, and are off to look for more, or perhaps they have a prearranged opportunity waiting for them. Ideally, they will be not on the best of terms with the Alliance/Appropriately Mobile Malefactor, and so are hoping to keep a very low profile.

In accepted fashion, they advertise for passengers, and discover to their pleasure that they can fill all available berths. Everyone can pay, everyone is personable enough, no one matches any warrants or notices on the cortex, and some of them even have farm fresh produce!

Leaving atmo’ goes off without a hitch and the first hours of the journey seem like the poster children for uneventful journeys. After that, however, things will begin to escalate.

To make this entertaining, you will need scenes where everyone is together, and scenes between specific PCs and NPCs. To make this all work to its best advantage it is important to keep one simple fact foremost in your mind: No one is even remotely what they seem.

This theme comes up quite a bit in the show, and to me it seems like one of the series’ main conceits. Devotees of the show should be able to mine the pilot episode and Our Mrs. Reynolds for quite a bit of inspiration for mood, quiet Chinese expletives, and the value of a carefully timed reveal.

What can make this seed special, though, is to carry this idea of dissembling to new heights by wrapping each passenger in multiple layers that you plan to have peeled back, both by the crew and the machinations of the other passengers, until the whole thing starts to become surreal. Done correctly, the players should be left in doubt that they have gotten to the bottom of things by the time the passengers leave the ship, and the series should have added a raft of interesting and well-developed NPCs to encounter again and again in equally bizarre and misleading circumstances.

Examples:

  1. One of the passengers is a different gender than they appear to be. They are posing as an agrarian researcher, with a secondary false cover of being on the run from loan sharks, while in reality they are actually pretending not to be a customs agent… or maybe that is not the end of the deception.
  2. A brother and sister travelling together are not actually siblings but married, except that they are not married to each other, they are married to other people, who may or may not be dead under circumstances which may or may not be entirely legal, with pursuit which may or may not be heating up right now.
  3. A wealthy entrepreneur wishes to travel incognito, except he is neither wealthy nor an entrepreneur. He claims to be interested in travelling discreetly, but he keeps sticking his nose into the business of the others and can’t get enough information about how everything works, and how everyone interacts. He can often be found repeating what others have said, as though practicing it. He may be a runaway from the pressures of a domineering family, or he might be a poser/wannabe thug with delusions of toughness, but it is quite probable he is an author seeking inspiration for his next novel… or worse: an actor.

Let your imagination roam free, try to make characters which by their very (supposed) natures rub certain members of the crew the wrong way, and try to keep the pace as fast as possible.

Ensure that situations arise where the people who should have the needed skills to solve them, don’t.

Have people, due to the crowding on the ship, constantly walking in on the middle of conversations and in the middle of sentences, leading to lots of misinterpretations and things being taken out of context.

Make the mundane suspicious and the suspicious mundane.

Speak your piece~

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