Space Wurm v Moonicorn: Session Zero

I had originally started writing this as a private thing to Johnstone Metzger but I thought, what the heck, might as well post it here. Kind of a look at how prepping for the first session is working for me.

Hey Johnstone, I have a quick thing about SWvM I want to talk about before we run it tonight.

So one of the beatable fronts of our game is Interstellar Transport. They’ve gone all-in on a low-tech planetary romance thing: teleportation (kind of Stargate-y) controlled by a monopoly, no cyber, no aliens.

I’m looking at the Interstellar Transport threats with an eye toward choosing something beatable by both SW and M, right? Get them out the gate fast. That leaves out Space Madness (no hunters, but there’ll definitely be madness at some point!) and Disease Control (again no hunters as far as I can tell, seems more like an environmental threat than a beatable thing).

I’m considering Hostile Transport Guild because that hits SW right where he lives, threatening his ability to control the galaxy (he’s got Imperial Throne and Secret Police, very conventional choices but that’s okay). I see, and like, that the Hostile Transport Guild’s hunters are kind of flaky and low-threat, because they’ve probably been hired in from somewhere else. But what I don’t see is a motive! Nor can I really suss one out from the questions we’ve answered so far. I know why the Hostile Transport Guild is hostile — because Space Wurm is a monster and they disagree with his using them to move around troops — but hell if I can suss out literally anything at all for them to have against Moonicorn.

Does this come down to Moonicorn picking the fight? Like, based on unreasonable sanctions? I had it in my head, trying to project ahead in the session, that Moonicorn might make a Hunters roll first and then eventually Revolution Now! when he digs deeper. But maybe that’s backwards? Maybe Moonicorn sees the sanctions and decides to do something about it, and then the Guild fights back?

I guess in the end that makes the whole threat a “slow boil” option, therefore not a good one to jump on.

tl;dr: Wondering if you had a reason for leaving out a baked-in (probably weird) motive for the Hostile Transport Guild’s hunters. I looked pretty thoroughly through the book and it doesn’t look like you did that anywhere else there are hunters.

13 thoughts on “Space Wurm v Moonicorn: Session Zero”

  1. Judd Karlman that seems like it’d undermine the Revolution Now! move, doesn’t it? I mean that’s the point of that move. That’s why I think I need to reverse what I’m expecting to play out in the game — Moonicorn gets jumped by assholes, looks deeper, discovers OPPRESSION — and just have him rub up against the guild in everyday life.

  2. Basically, I think they’re assholes. They have a monopoly, they like throwing their weight around, and they can see the future where Paul Atreides is a threat to them. Sorry, I mean Moonicorn. But they’re cowards so they bully the emperor into doing something about it for them. They don’t really need a motive per se, aside from being on a power trip. Political commentary through the absence of any comments, I guess?

    That said, you’ve got what? The transport guild is actually run by sentient, biotech stargates, yeah? So in order for you to go to another planet, one of the bosses of the guild has to eat you and shit you out. Which also means that every time Moonicorn goes somewhere, he’s rolling Revolution Now! Every time he goes to another planet, somebody’s like “Moonicorn! The guild ate my son!” or “We don’t have enough money to escape our war-ravaged planet because the guild’s prices are too high!” or Moonicorn notices the guild has no defences against the space madness and he can totally tell other people about that too, and then they’ll know and not trust the guild. So they really do have good reasons to assassinate Paul! I mean Moonicorn!

    Starting these guys off with a bang might be kind of hard though, especially since they work through other people. If you wanted to use the Hammett plot-mover, it’s some other faction that attacks them, and then Moonicorn has to question them to find out the Guild hired them, right? “They said you’re the kwisatz haderach or something. Look, it was a job, nothing personal! Just let me go!” But it’s a game so of course it might go completely some other way and Moonicorn’s off on a wild goose chase.

    Another option you have, if you’re cool with being super improvisational, is make sure Moonicorn is using one of these gates real early on. Maybe even start the game with Moonicorn fleeing another faction through the living stargate. Then roll for Revolution Now! and base everything about the guild and its relationship with Moonicorn on that one roll. Use the immediate situation and the input of the players to interpret the results of that roll, and then stat up the consequences in between sessions.

  3. Also, keep in mind that none of the dangers in the book are really “complete.” They’re collections of ideas and prompts to get you started. So if you see an element you really like, you can totally mix and match or repurpose it.

    Psychonaut invaders make great hunters for the space madness danger, for example. They can be just like an alien invasion. In your game, you’d just have to make sure they’re not really aliens. Maybe hallucinatory mirror-world Moonicorn is a totalitarian fascist and the transport guild is powerless to stop him from accessing reality through their stargate bodies, but they’d rather just cover it up than actually address the problem, especiall because the oneirofascisti have promised to maintain their monopoly.

  4. Good answers, thanks Johnstone Metzger.

    I was leaning hard toward the improv answer: just have Moonicorn go somewhere and be near/around/in one of the teleporters. I’ll have to feel them out tonight, and see if I wake up any.

    It does sound like they need to be moved into position a bit, though. Although we have a Spice that bends space and time and is used for prophecy, so … yeah. I can see pretty much any justification at all being good enough for the guild to start slapping around Moonicorn.

  5. Adam D oh yeah for sure. It’s just so colorful and mechanics-light that writing about it just kind of naturally comes out weird and interesting, and not nerdy-techy.

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