Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Red Dwarf RPG - Starting at The End

I don't know if I've ever posted here about RPG'ing before. If not, strap in, because it's going to happen now. 

I wanted to GM a new game, and since I'd previously tended to spend ages writing something first, I wanted something with a fairly well defined background, and something that everyone in the group would know. Another key criteria for me is that it be daft - "serious" roleplaying is all well and good, but it needs a lot of commitment from everyone involved and I think it's pretty hard to keep that up.  So I needed something light.

Enter Red Dwarf: The RPG.

The basic rulebook is £30 on Amazon, but as I was psyching myself up to buy that, I noticed a review on Amazon advising me to look at instead. So I did, and was able to get the basic rulebook and the sourcebook, delivered from the US, for less than £18. 

Anyway, I got that, and just four short months later, we were finally ready to play. I wanted to have a go with the rules, and see if everyone actually got on with the game, before getting too committed, so I came up with a simple scenario to get us from the 23rd century to the 30,023rd century, pre-generated some characters, and away we went. 

Here's what happened.

EPISODE 1 - THE END (I'm nothing if not original)

The doomed ship that the adventure starts on is the JMC Canary Wharf. This bright yellow monstrosity is a freighter, which tows 18 enormous cargo containers behind it, in a 3x2x3 stack. Each container is the size of a present-day container ship. This was a cunning decision of mine to allow several large, unexplored areas to be close at hand for the future. There's also a ship-to-shore vessel called the Spacecrab, which uses huge legs to grab these containers and take them down to the surface of a planet.

The Canary Wharf was heading out of the solar system to a new JMC mining colony, which was being made more permanent after the first exploratory digs were a success. It was carrying everything needed to set up a more permanent home for the miners and increase the scope of their operations.

The characters I generated for my players were all riggers - low-ranked crew members in charge of the cargo. 

Wes - Miles Bramwell - a promising young officer who got himself demoted and stuck on a freighter after an affair with his previous captain's wife
Pete - James Cowling - grew up on a remote farm and was desperate to leave, so joined the space corps
Kieron - Paul Jackson - the cheerfully dim, but pretty strong, career rigger.

The PC's started in the rec room, playing cards at the Halfway Point party as the Canary Wharf passed through the Kuiper Belt. This was a way to introduce the skill rolls, and get the players looking at the right part of their character sheets. It was also a harmless place for us to figure out how things hang together.

They heard a loud bang, and Denzil reported that external communications were down and fire had been detected in container 6. The Chief Rigger picked the PCs to investigate. 

They decided to put on spacesuits before entering the container. Once inside, they immediately spotted a large hole in the ceiling, but no obvious cause for it. 

Jackson suggested that the container could be searched more effectively if they split up, and the others went along with this. This is nice roleplaying - it's Red Dwarf, don't make sensible decisions all the time! There was a lot of OOC joking around about this, and it was nice to see Wes and Pete, both still very new to RPGs, getting involved. 

There then followed a bit of discussion about what they were looking for (over radio, since they were conveniently wearing spacesuits). During this discussion, they noticed that there was something shimmering over the hole, and decided to climb to it. Cowling couldn't manage the climb, but did disturb some paper which then fluttered to the ground, making him suspect there was actually some kind of atmosphere in the container. 

An argument over who should remove their helmet to test this theory was inconclusive.  

Jackson then did manage to climb up, having thought to take a handy iron bar with him. He discovered some devices around the hole, a line running into the back of the container, and some smoke rising from the same area. 

Bramwell went to investigate the smoke, and found that it was caused by a chunk of the hull hitting some mining equipment and sparking a fire. He also found 5 armed pirates, rummaging through the cargo. One of them asked him to step over to them, and he decided to run instead. Unfortunately, he managed to fall flat on his own face, but this did cause the pirate to miss with his laser pistol. His attempt at friendly negotiations with the pirates from this position was not successful. Again though, nice bit of Red Dwarf characterisation from Wes, trying to talk down the people pointing guns at him.

Jackson swung for the devices around the hole with his bar, having clipped himself to the line. It took a couple of blows to break it, and remove the forcefield. The container decompressed, blasting four of the pirates into space, and badly affecting the remains of the cargo filing system. Cowling had grabbed onto a crate, but Bramwell failed to hold on and managed to miss every handhold on the way out, drifting through the opening.  

As Cowling was much more lucky, he was able to grab a pistol on its way out.  

The final pirate was still attached to the line, and was now hurtling directly towards Jackson. Paul swung for him, and managed to lay the pirate out cold. Given that he wasn't wearing a helmet, this proved less than optimal for the pirate. Jackson was able to retrieve an auto pistol from him. 

Bramwell's exit flung him into the pirate's ship, attached to the hull. He failed to grab that too, but got his foot caught on a missile slung under it. He told his crewmates about the pirates also crawling on the outside of the hull, and they clambered out to tackle them. Gunfire was exchanged to little effect. 

At this point, one of the pirates mysteriously teleported from just behind the pirate ship to right at the opening, and didn't seem to expect that to happen. Cowling took advantage of the confusion and subdued him. 

Bramwell decided to reprogram the missile he was attached to, aiming to launch it and have it return to the pirate ship. After a brief false start where he only managed to arm it, he launched it and himself down the length of Canary Wharf at speed. He intended to release himself as the missile turned, but of course failed. As it changed direction he was knocked out by the G-forces, so was now hurtling, unconscious, back toward the pirate ship while strapped to a missile. I swear I wasn't doing this on purpose.

Having dealt with the other pirates, Jackson got creative, and threw his trusty iron bar. Somehow, he scored a direct hit, knocking the missile away from both ships, and jarring Bramwell off it, so that he could drift, still at high speed, onwards towards the back of Canary Wharf. He saw the line, still attached to both ships, and grabbed at it.  

This was badly misjudged, and neatly severed his hand at the wrist.  Ok, that was on purpose.

The pirate ship, now loaded, took off, and its captain waved cheerily. Having heard that pirates had entered the main body of Canary Wharf, Cowling headed forward to take them on, dodging machine gun fire. Jackson shot at the pirate ship, scoring an incredibly lucky hit and cracking its windscreen. The pirate captain looked at lot less cheerful as his ship turned away. 

Bramwell hurtled into the Spacecrab, and finally managed to grab onto something. He got the door open and staggered into the cockpit to find the first aid kit.  

Cowling got back on board, and was caught off guard by a pirate. He managed to shoot him, but only after being stabbed.  

As the pirate ship detached from Canary Wharf, it cut the line, and Jackson fell back into the container. He was knocked unconscious when he hit the floor. 

In a decidedly unsporting parting gesture, the pirate captain fired his remaining missile, with a Cadmium-2 warhead, into the Canary's crew section.

The Beginning...

So, that wipes out the crew. The next episode, assuming there is one (and everyone seemed keen, so I just have to write the thing), will start the traditional 3,000,000 years later. 

The game itself seemed to work. I liked it as it's got a pretty simple core mechanic (skill+base stat+any modifiers is your target number, roll under that on 2d6), and there's enough sample stats in the book that I didn't have to make anything up for the pirates or the weapons (which is something I've always struggled to get right in Savage Worlds). 

I deliberately kept the pre-gen characters simple, but for the next session I want to get everyone using the assets, liabilities and behaviour tags system, which adds extra depth to the characters and hopefully gives me more chances to make their lives complicated...

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