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Thread: Getting all the PCs into the Away Team

  1. #1
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    Getting all the PCs into the Away Team

    Between our Captain and First Officer (both of whom are PCs), it's tough to get all of the PCs into each landing party/Away Team. The Captain is an adventurous type, so he will often go, but in those cases he leaves the First Officer in charge. Other times he stays with the ship, putting the First Officer in charge of the team beaming down.

    Has anybody found a good way of making sure all of the PCs are there for the action and excitement? Obviously we could talk about it out-of-character and just do things that way, but the players are just trying to play their characters behaving as a standard Starfleet crew would do.

    I should have specified that our campaign is based around an Akira-class starship exploring the Neutral Zone (and surrounding area) in 2380 (though this question could easily apply to any Federation crew of any era).

    Anybody got any good ideas?
    Doug Taylor
    Member of Decipher's Hall of Fame
    Currently running The One Ring RPG. I also occasionally run Villains & Vigilantes (our campaign is in year 25) and WEG d6 Star Wars (both games are mostly on hiatus) and an annual game based on The X-Files (using Conspiracy X).

  2. #2
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    I follow one simple rule about my shows: The PCs are the stars of the show, so they need to be in the middle of the action as much as possible.

    For landing parties, that means that the PCs are usually the ones who find themselves heading planetside just about every time. Kirk and Spock often beamed down together, and also quite often with Bones in tow. I try to do the same thing.

    In the 2280s game I'm running, I have four PCs (the last two episodes featured the captain, first officer (who's also security/weapons officer), helmsman, and chief engineer...this episode has one player leaving and another joining, but we'll go with the listed group above). So, I design my episodes with the intention that landing parties will benefit from having the former-scientist, the security guy, the engineer and the pilot around.

    Now, the first officer's player didn't mind staying on the bridge when others head down, but I've worked the episodes so that even he was involved as much as possible when left behind.

    I'm losing my first officer player, so he'll end up being the "eye in the sky," and the landing party will now have our erstwhile Tellerite surgeon (yes, his bedside manner is terrible...) along for the ride.

    The point is, all of the PCs should have as much screen time as feasible. So, even if the situation planetside has no call for one of the PCs to be present in the landing party, be sure to give them a problem to solve on the ship.

    You take a look at my game here.
    Davy Jones

    "Frightened? My dear, you are looking at a man who has laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe! I was petrified."
    -- The Wizard of Oz

  3. #3
    TBH they managed it in the shows most of the time... get yourself a third ranking officer to fill the second officer role as an NPC...

    Thus an away team calls;

    XO; "Starfleet regulations state that I should lead the away team as XO."
    Captain. "Captains perogative commender. Lietenenant not involved in this episode, you have the bridge. Now commander lets go see what we capatains are supposed to be avoiding shall we?"

    ...Job done. And from that point on you are good to go.

    If you really want to be a stickler for the book. Have the players of ship-bound crew take on redshirts on the away team, anything the player does earns them player XP for their character andshold the NPC survive they may evven get a name and a relevant advancement... Keep going until the redshirt dies...
    DanG/Darth Gurden
    The Voice of Reason and Sith Lord

    “Putting the FUNK! back into Dysfunctional!”

    Coming soon. The USS Ganymede NCC-80107
    "Ad astrae per scientia" (To the stars through knowledge)

  4. #4
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    Great points, both of you - thanks!

    On our latest session I did something similar by having the players of two of the characters (the First Officer and Ops Officer, who weren't on the Away Team) play what were (essentially) 'red shirts' (Security personnel), though I didn't have those players gain any XP.

    Our group has toyed with the idea of having "Secondary PCs" that would allow for this, but I think I like the idea of more or less making the show be about the PCs, and encouraging them (out of game) to make sure all PCs go on each mission. After all, one can assume that the adventures we're playing through are the exceptional stories, rather than routine, mundane tasks. In other words, even if most of the time the XO doesn't beam down (all of those Away Teams that we don't play out), he/she still can occasionally.
    Doug Taylor
    Member of Decipher's Hall of Fame
    Currently running The One Ring RPG. I also occasionally run Villains & Vigilantes (our campaign is in year 25) and WEG d6 Star Wars (both games are mostly on hiatus) and an annual game based on The X-Files (using Conspiracy X).

  5. #5
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    In Media Res

    A lot of episodes begin with landing parties materializing on strange new worlds.
    As narrator, you can just narrate the mundane facts and jump right into the meaty part of the story. "Starfleet Command has ordered you to investigate the disappearance of the USS Lost near Alpha Omega, an advanced civilization on the edge of the Neutral Zone. Your landing party beams down to rocky foothills about a kilometer from a walled city. Tricorders read animal life in a cave 20 meters away. What do you do?"
    + &lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;<

    Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. Psalm 144:1

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    A lot of episodes begin with landing parties materializing on strange new worlds.
    As narrator, you can just narrate the mundane facts and jump right into the meaty part of the story. "Starfleet Command has ordered you to investigate the disappearance of the USS Lost near Alpha Omega, an advanced civilization on the edge of the Neutral Zone. Your landing party beams down to rocky foothills about a kilometer from a walled city. Tricorders read animal life in a cave 20 meters away. What do you do?"
    Good idea, Sarge! I've opened adventures in media res before, but never quite like that (choosing the Away Team). Great plan!
    Doug Taylor
    Member of Decipher's Hall of Fame
    Currently running The One Ring RPG. I also occasionally run Villains & Vigilantes (our campaign is in year 25) and WEG d6 Star Wars (both games are mostly on hiatus) and an annual game based on The X-Files (using Conspiracy X).

  7. #7
    How my group got around that issue was to have multiple characters each. One command staff, one enlisted, and one secondary from either officer or enlisted to serve as an away-team member if one of the other characters didn't fit the mission specs. From the GM's side, it really helped in not needing to explain why the top-ranking people were going on missions and helped pad out the NPC pool (i.e. I didn't need as many NPC to help with missing specialities).

    Oh, almost forgot; the players were not allowed to basiclly clone the character concepts, each had to be from some other department.
    Phoenix...

    "I'm not saying there should be capital punishment for stupidity,
    but maybe we should just remove all the safety lables and let nature take it's course"

    "A Place For Everything & Nothing In It's Place"

  8. #8
    Thats similar to how we played it as well.
    Tractor beams are not designed for sling shotting Asteroids!! "What other use is there then?" T'Pak klingon/ vulcan hybrids response to fighting in an asteriod field.

  9. #9
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    We've certainly considered something similar (as I mentioned, making "secondary characters"). Part of what's made me hold off is that (a) much as I love CODA, it's pretty time-intensive to make characters, and (b) it means that many more characters to keep track of.

    I think I've decided to try it, though. At our last session I gave each of the players the a-ok to make up any secondary characters they want to, especially 'red shirts' that can serve as Security for Away Teams.
    Doug Taylor
    Member of Decipher's Hall of Fame
    Currently running The One Ring RPG. I also occasionally run Villains & Vigilantes (our campaign is in year 25) and WEG d6 Star Wars (both games are mostly on hiatus) and an annual game based on The X-Files (using Conspiracy X).

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
    How my group got around that issue was to have multiple characters each. One command staff, one enlisted, and one secondary from either officer or enlisted to serve as an away-team member if one of the other characters didn't fit the mission specs. From the GM's side, it really helped in not needing to explain why the top-ranking people were going on missions and helped pad out the NPC pool (i.e. I didn't need as many NPC to help with missing specialities).
    This system also helps when you need an emphasis or emotional reaction. In short order these NPC's (I personally use the phrase DPC... Directed Player Character, as i it is not the norml PC but is available for use by that player and as a stand in for mission specifics) will become treasred, trusted and sometimes even used instead of the main...

    And when you really need to kill someone that will hit the same emotional blow as a main character, but would rather avoid killing the main PC's... Bobs your (ex) uncle.
    DanG/Darth Gurden
    The Voice of Reason and Sith Lord

    “Putting the FUNK! back into Dysfunctional!”

    Coming soon. The USS Ganymede NCC-80107
    "Ad astrae per scientia" (To the stars through knowledge)

  11. #11
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    That's a really good point, Dan. And I like the term DPC. I might use that!
    Doug Taylor
    Member of Decipher's Hall of Fame
    Currently running The One Ring RPG. I also occasionally run Villains & Vigilantes (our campaign is in year 25) and WEG d6 Star Wars (both games are mostly on hiatus) and an annual game based on The X-Files (using Conspiracy X).

  12. #12
    Also, not every member of the away team has to be picked because of their department, they might tag along because of their private interests or useful expertise.
    An engineer could be a private expert on exobiology for example.

    That, or his last physical report concluded that he needed to get out more often.

  13. #13
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    Chello!

    I borrowed the idea of "troupe play" from Ars Magica myself. Let me explain.

    In Ars Magica, the PCs are magi in a "covenant," a stronghold of mages. Magi are the most powerful Archetypes, hands down. But, PCs can't always play their mage. Maybe an individual magus is not suited to a particular quest. Maybe a maga needs some lab time working on research. Whatever. That's where Companions come in.

    Companions would be the other archetypes/classes in a normal fantasy game. Maybe someone is playing the captain of the covenant's guard. Another is a wandering friar who likes the covenant and ministers to the Christians among the servants. another is a skilled artisan. If you can't play your magus, you play your companion.

    There are also the "grogs." These are the henchmen and hangers-on of other games; NPCs. These are "communal property" however. Anyone can play them at any time. This would be like a valet, a cook, a guard, a stableboy, etc. It helps if you have to spilt the party. Sort of like the DPCs mentioned above.

    It would be nice to have a complete staffing chart or a Constitution-class ship. Not that I would ever get all 400 characters. But it would have ideas.

    So, I have each player roll up their main character, probably one of the 1st shift bridge crew. then an asst. department head or a specialist of some sort. everybody helps with making up a few lower-ranking "DPC's" to fill out the crew and have some filler if needed and we're set.
    Anthony N. Emmel, M.A.
    Learned Scholar & Catholic Gentleman

    U.S.S. Victory NCC-1760
    "England expects that every man will do his duty."

  14. #14
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    Well... leaving aside the risible "20th century expert" NPC (thanks, TNG)... any ship has some people who are very skilled/knowledgable at some areas.

    Back in the day, in my FASA campaign, I had a communications NPC ensign who read up on lost ships and space ghost stories. He saw a lot of boarding party duty when the ship got a frontier patrol tour!

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Nuclear Fridge View Post
    Well... leaving aside the risible "20th century expert" NPC (thanks, TNG)... any ship has some people who are very skilled/knowledgable at some areas.

    Back in the day, in my FASA campaign, I had a communications NPC ensign who read up on lost ships and space ghost stories. He saw a lot of boarding party duty when the ship got a frontier patrol tour!
    Maybe the 20th Century expert was like your comms officer as another role heavily read up and with a dissertation about the 20th Century. If it was his actual job title, he must have led a dull-dull life

    "Bridge to Science, we have detected a strange Temporal disturbance!"
    "Does it go to the 20th century?"
    Pause. "No. The 19th century patch me through to Maguire."
    DanG/Darth Gurden
    The Voice of Reason and Sith Lord

    “Putting the FUNK! back into Dysfunctional!”

    Coming soon. The USS Ganymede NCC-80107
    "Ad astrae per scientia" (To the stars through knowledge)

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