Scumday Wednesday

So our campaign is back up and running. And very nearly came to an end!

It was kind of a perfect session in some important ways. Like, the crew finally came to a head on the “what do we do with the Aleph Key?” question. Despite getting a super freaky psychic warning off their Entanglements roll last session (three 6es in a row got them to the top-tier table), they ignored the nightmarish visions and decided to see if they could open the ancient Ur vault it was supposed to go to.

They did everything right and yet they did everything so very wrong as well. Their Engagement roll set them up in a risky situation right out of the gate: an ancient Ur defense awakened by their sensor sweeps of the small moon. But they wanted ticks on their clock so the pilot pushed their risky to desperate to go for a better outcome. The die pool wasn’t huge, like 4 or 5 dice, but it came up with what I believe was our first-ever straight up failure: nothing better than a 3. The odds are really low for that sort of thing but it was gonna happen someday.

So the Ur defense opened a jumpgate at their ship’s midpoint and cut it in half.

I really wasn’t ready for such a dramatic turn of events but you have to follow the fiction, you know? There was some outstanding competence porn as they gently nudged the wreckage toward the moon’s surface to touch down, followed by dueling clocks to reach the Ur vault (6 slices) versus out of oxygen (4 slices, one for each character). The mad dash to the vault also came up a desperate failure. So I decided, rather than straight killing them, I’d simply remove the reach the Ur vault clock: that opportunity was gone. They were lost.

The session ended with the Mystic putting the whammy on his own crew and finally directly summoning help from his faction, a group we made up called The Dark. I kind of wish I’d understood the setting better because I would have preferred to have folded his faction into an existing group, like the Nightspeakers (thematically similar). I may yet just change the Nightspeakers into The Dark, still deciding. Anyway, the Mystic had wanted to get the Aleph Key to his group since session one, and things finally fell together to make that happen.

So they’re starting with a fresh copy of the Stardancer and a whole big set of “you owe us for your lives” obligations to a group they’re feeling pretty iffy about. It’s great! But it was a huge, huge turn.

12 thoughts on “Scumday Wednesday

  1. I got a real Mass Effect 2 vibe from that. You should be dead, but you’re not and you owe this shadowy group now. Given ME2’s probably objectively the best of that series, that’s a good thing!

  2. Sounds like a great session!

    If you feel like writing more about Racing Clocks – how you’ve used them, lessons learned, I’d like to hear about that. I’m making a list of lessons learned from the last Blades campaign I ran & one of the bullet points is on Racing Clocks. I want to try them again & more often. In particular, I’m curious about 1 versus 3 individual clocks in pure procedural terms.

    I re-bought Mass Effect 2 & started playing through it again, have been idly browsing through the fan-made Mass Effect d6 RPG & plan to play a character who is, aesthetically at least, a Quarian for the S&V game I’m playing in next week. Harry Lee Alexander Cooley Brendan Adkins

  3. Matthew Gagan so it started as a single “you’re out” clock, and it was deliberately shorter than the “you made it!” clock. Then somebody led a group Scramble action, and I wanted to offer each of them the obvious Devil’s Bargain: a tick on the O2 clock for a die. Well, ticking the whole clock seemed suicidal so I decided to just write each character’s initial in the spot as the accepted or rejected the Bargain.

    Oh they failed that roll a well. Seven total dice, nothing higher than 3. That’s when I threw away the “you got there!” clock.

    Yeah it was really good. The whole thing has a really different vibe now, which I think it needed. They were smugglers but now they’re… something else.

  4. BitD didn’t click with me when I ran it earlier this year, but I need to give Scum a shot sometime. This is helping me sell on it, although some of the bits I dislike are still there.

  5. Thanks.

    I’m not enough of a math head to do it, but I’d love to see someone break down some various racing clock math so when I’m setting up a race in Forged in the Dark games I have a rough idea of success odds for the contest. It would be broken out in X segments versus X segments, number of dice rolled as a baseline and would assume no Devils’ Bargains, Pushing or Assists. Then I’d know as GM, “This is a 50/50 or 66/33 proposition but the PCs can “Stress, Consequences & Resist (also Stress)” their way towards better odds if they want to.

    One thing I fell into towards the end of my most recent Blades run was a meta rule that for Clocks where time was a factor (Mission Clocks, Racing Clocks & some but not all Danger Clocks) the time factor would always be one tick per Consequence so that element was predictable and measured. So, for example, a 4/5 result on a Risky Action Roll under the time gun would always be one tick on the Mission Clock timer, and an additional minor complication or lesser harm, etc. An 1-5 on a single Action Roll would never result in two or more ticks for the time pressure no matter how desperate the circumstance; one tick plus some additional trouble.

    I’m still making my way through S&V, Gregor Vuga but it seems like all of the bits you disliked would still be there unless the setting was your issue? Or no?

  6. Yeah, I use the same guideline for any kind of “damage”: 1/2/3 ticks on clocks, level 01/2/3 harm, 1/2/3 levels of ship harm, etc.

    Not always though: when I announced the “the Ur ruins seem to have begun opening, whoa, it looks like a jump gate is opening right in front of you!” bit, that was me telegraphing “get out or your ship will fucking die” rather than “you might take 3 hits because it’s desperate.” That’s where I don’t like feeling so very constrained by that guideline.

    I’ve never even thought about the possible math ramifications of running asymmetrical racing clocks. But it felt good and scary! I’m now regretting not putting all the “you’re out of 02!” ticks against the same clock, get them sorta competing for the same resource.

  7. Yeah, it was a guideline for me & I saw cases where following it strictly wouldn’t be the best answer to honor the fiction.

    Definitely some confidence issues for me there which I think some math/charts might help me with?

    I was able to build up some confidence with this aspect in Danger Patrol after running a lot of games. I’ve run even more games of Blades now but still learning & fussing with this bit.

    We manage to have fun regardless. 🙂

  8. Matthew Gagan Yeah, I guess the main mechanical bits are all still there. Although switching from a lair to a spaceship and from Duskvol to the vastness of space might somehow make that work better for us, I dunno. I also picked up a few house rules along the way which might make the second time around flow better.

  9. Gregor Vuga yeah, S&V feels different than BitD in some important ways. The big one is that it’s not nearly so claustrophobic. It also feels less face-stabby, in that the Scum factions are all kind of doing their own thing on their own clocks. It’s much more of a sandbox than Blades, where at least in our game you had to defend your tiny bit of turf right out of the gate.

    The heat/wanted system in Scum, I think, is good for letting the crew buzz around with impunity. At least in our game, there always seems to be enough time or money during downtime to “lay low” and back down their wanted level. There’s generally quite a lot of heat everywhere but Wanted is quite easy to get rid of.

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