2010-09-23 Mixing Fate and Skill Challenges

I’m running a biweekly Diaspora game in a Traveller Subsector. The party had just crash landed on a planet after being shot down by a gunship using space combat rules and made it to the base on a sort of social combat map with the opponents being earthquakes, a sea monster, and a patrol of aliens. Inside the base, they saw the overgrown and partly disassembled remnants of the ship that had brought the alien infection to the system and decided they were going to hook their diplomat-hacker up with the central nervous system running the base. I asked the table whether they felt like another map and combat but Harald reminded me of another technique I often use: Just go around in a circle and ask each of the players what they’ll do to help solve the problem.

Four players, four rolls. I said you need at least two successes. First attempt by Thomas at finding a quiet corner fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Second attempt by Florian at fighting the immune system of the mega-organism fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Third attempt by Harald at hooking up the hacker fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Whoa!! The last roll comes up and I ask for the stakes. What’s going to happen when Jörg fails? I say he’s going to be taken over and integrated into the base if he fails. He says “w00t!?” He doesn’t want to take the consequences for all the earlier failures. Harald volunteers to take a severe consequence that would change his result into a success – “infected by an alien mind”. Yay!! Jörg manages to reprogram the alien factory in order to make the resulting ship something they can use. Victory!

As the session was about to end, I give the diplomat-hacker the following choice:

  1. will you try to get off-world as quickly as possible with the intelligence you gathered, ie. leave safely but without resolving the situation? No fight, no loot, minimal plot advancement.
  2. will you man the ship as soon as possible, head over to the wreck of the old ship to rescue an ancient artifact, delaying long enough that you’ll have to fight your way out of the system? One space combat, but save artifact.
  3. will you confuse the three ships in the system in order to gain enough time to penetrate the central nervous system of the base, eliminate the threat, and then try to get off the system? One personal combat, and one ship combat, but resolve situation.

They picked #3 – Alien 2 style. So proud. :)



If I wanted an easy way out, I wouldn’t be playing in the first place.

– Harald Wagener 2010-09-23 14:04 UTC

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