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Thread: How do I keep the doctor engaged?

  1. #1

    How do I keep the doctor engaged?

    I'm having trouble keeping one of my players engaged in my game. He plays the ship's doctor, and he is one of three players that attends remotely over Google Hangouts. I currently have six players total, thee in person and three over Hangouts. Everyone else is reasonably focused and attentive, but the doctor keeps mentally checking out and will do things like surf the web and browse facebook during game until we specifically call on him, and then we have to bring him up to speed on what's happening.

    I know this is generally unacceptable behavior in any game, but I feel like it's not totally his fault. He joined the campaign midstream, replacing the previous doctor who hardly ever showed up at all, so I had already plotted out adventures that didn't require having a doctor. Also, I don't write in a lot of combat in my adventures, and my players usually try to avoid combat when presented with the option. As a result, the doctor normally has very little to do. He's tried to assert himself as an adviser to the captain, but the captain doesn't do well with unsolicited advice, so the doctor tends to feel like he's not being listened to. I can't really fault the captain's player for that since she's playing a stubborn Andorian (think Shran, but with breasts and less shooty).

    I plan on running a "stop the plague" or some other medical emergency type of adventure so he'll have something interesting to do, but then after that mission is over I'll be right back were I started with him. I can't fit very many adventures like that into my campaign since I'm doing more of an intrigue-based overall plot.

    My wife runs a non-Star Trek game with the same group of players (she runs a Little Fears campaign, and we alternate between Little Fears and Star Trek), and this player who is a problem in my game is very attentive and active in hers. He has told her openly that he enjoys her campaign more, but doesn't fault me or think I'm doing a bad job. He's just able to find more interesting things to do in her game.

    So, does anyone have any ideas on how to get the doctor more involved on a regular basis? How can I make his job more interesting than just waiting for someone to get sick or injured and then rolling to heal them? FYI: I'm running a TOS-era campaign aboard a tiny scout ship (crew complement of 14) patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone. I'm using LUG's ICON system and TOS sourcebook.
    Last edited by Mr_Tricorder; 08-09-2016 at 10:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    As it is just a crew of 14, any possibility for the doc to have to fill in some other position?

    Or, perhaps make a parallel story arch, where the doc is trying to figure out something, and that something takes several sessions? So sometime the doc joins up with the away team, but have his own things to do. Sometimes he is still on the ship or somewhere else, and switching between the two "groups".

  3. #3
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    Well, there is a plot in one of the novels where the Tal Shiar resurrect a deadly Romulan virus and introduce it along the Neutral Zone via merchants. You could steal this storyline and have your scout ship first respond to a small freighter in need of immediate medical care. After that, they begin to hear reports of intermittent outbreaks of illness along the border. Given the random nature of the courses the merchants carrying the virus take, the spread will be difficult to track and which species that are vulnerable can vary, so you could have Andorians and Vulcans easily infected, humans less so, and Tellerites immune, that sort of thing. Figuring out the source and nature of the virus could literally take months for your doc.
    "For to win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." Sun Tzu - The Art of War

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt. Lundgren View Post
    As it is just a crew of 14, any possibility for the doc to have to fill in some other position?

    Or, perhaps make a parallel story arch, where the doc is trying to figure out something, and that something takes several sessions? So sometime the doc joins up with the away team, but have his own things to do. Sometimes he is still on the ship or somewhere else, and switching between the two "groups".
    My other players actually requested playing as junior officer NPCs during our last adventure so they could split into groups. I didn't have actual character sheets for the junior officer NPCs yet, so it was a little rough at first. I have them fleshed out now, so I can share the PDFs for the character sheets with my online players. Hopefully that will help.

    The parallel story arch suggestion sounds interesting, but I'm not sure how well I can implement it. That's going to take some time for me to develop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pericles View Post
    Well, there is a plot in one of the novels where the Tal Shiar resurrect a deadly Romulan virus and introduce it along the Neutral Zone via merchants. You could steal this storyline and have your scout ship first respond to a small freighter in need of immediate medical care. After that, they begin to hear reports of intermittent outbreaks of illness along the border. Given the random nature of the courses the merchants carrying the virus take, the spread will be difficult to track and which species that are vulnerable can vary, so you could have Andorians and Vulcans easily infected, humans less so, and Tellerites immune, that sort of thing. Figuring out the source and nature of the virus could literally take months for your doc.
    Do you remember which novel that's from? I've been reading a lot of Star Trek novels and getting inspiration from them, particularly the Vanguard series. The ship class and a couple of NPCs the characters have met so far are taken directly from Vanguard.

    Anyway, you've definitely given me some ideas. Thank you both.
    Check out my TOS-era campaign, The Artemis Chronicles.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Tricorder View Post
    Do you remember which novel that's from? I've been reading a lot of Star Trek novels and getting inspiration from them, particularly the Vanguard series. The ship class and a couple of NPCs the characters have met so far are taken directly from Vanguard..
    That would be Catalyst of Sorrows, number 6 in the Lost Era series. According to the prologue:

    This story is set in the year 2360, sixty-seven years after the presumed death of Captain James T. Kirk aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise-B in Star Trek Generations, and four years before the launch of the Enterprise-D in "Encounter at Farpoint."
    "For to win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." Sun Tzu - The Art of War

  6. #6
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    On a small ship shouldn't the doctor be handling environmental systems (life support plus) and EVA suits? How about dealing with radiation issue related to a planet or a passing comet in regards to the crew's health. Insert a sub plot of needing to have annual physicals done while the rest of the crew is trying complete a part of a mission. It is possible disruptive to the other players unless done right by the doctor's player.
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  7. #7
    Just because he's a doctor doesn't mean he can't fire a phaser at the monster of the week as good as anyone else.

    Does your series have a lot of away missions? Throw out that TNG-era canard about senior officers staying on the ship and get him planet-side. As a doctor, he can at least partially fill in for the xeno-biologist/zoologist/etc.

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