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Auteur Sujet: [GM Only] Planning/Running "Industrial Espionage"  (Lu 9873 fois)

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Hors ligne BlueRonin

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[GM Only] Planning/Running "Industrial Espionage"
« le: 29/11/2016 - 23:31:50 »
To skip straight to the conclusion, click here:

 So my group and I are keen for more, and having knocked out "Havoc on Irminger" it makes sense (at least to me) to play through "Industrial Espionage" published in the Equinox Sourcebook. Personally I don't mind "finding my feet" with published adventures before diving into my own adventures. Furthermore, I do like picking such material apart and making it my own as a GM. I'm not sure if anybody will find this interesting, but I'll share some thoughts anyway. At least it'll help me structure my planning and refine some of my ideas.
 I've read through the scenario a few times and made some notes. The scenario provides a nice framework, but there are a lot of blanks to fill in as a GM. My first impression is to run the scenario as a three-part campaign, using the story to present Equinox to the players and letting them explore the city with their characters. We'll be designing new characters for this, and I've suggested that they compare the campaign ahead to a classic cyberpunk/Shadowrun-style operations. I look forward to seeing the players get som characters made over the coming week. Generating a proper hook to get the adventure going will be my first challenge, but it'll most probably be tied up in employment by somebody in Gladius.
 In my notes I've tried to work through the scenes and map out the clues. I find this critical what GM'ing an investigation, as it helps me to be flexible when my players' are getting creative and still keep the momentum going.
 In simplified terms, this is what I've mapped out:
 Body identified -> Shanter's address -> safe -> documentation and key:
 Documents -> Security Firm -> Warehouse -> Ambush -> Interrogate smugglers -> Proof of embezzlement & info on "real bad guys"
 Key -> Locker -> Pictures -> Drug Dealer -> ID Valendo -> address -> accommodation -> sister and her place of work -> sister and Daven missing -> Daven's address -> Interview with Daven -> Creeps at bar -> Dizo's gang -> Dizlo's location -> Interrogate Dizlo -> id the "real bad guys" -> location of "real bad guys"

 My initial vision is to develop 'part one' around identifying Shanter and (hopefully) influencing the players to follow the lead on the documents. Part two will then cover the players following up the magnetic key that will eventually lead to Dizlo. The third and final part will consist of infiltrating the lower levels in search of the "real bad guys". I imagine if I flesh out these three parts properly, the players will get a good look around Equinox (at least all the public parts).
 I refer to the "bad guys" in general terms because I want to develop a link between their agenda and the events of "Havoc on Irminger", hoping that at some point after this little campaign I might be able to tie the two together in such a way that the players can relate to the story they played there with the pre-gen characters. However, I'll just have to let that idea mature for a bit.
 First I need to focus on further developing the story structure of these three parts and fleshing out the narrative with all the relevant names and details of NPCs, organizations, locations to give it all some more life.
 As I mentioned initially, I doubt this is of much interest to many; but if there are other GM's on the forum who have either run the adventure or are planning to - your comments and critiques are welcome! :)
« Modifié: 29/01/2017 - 11:05:27 par BlueRonin »

Hors ligne BlueRonin

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Re : [GM Only] Planning/Running "Industrial Espionage"
« Réponse #1 le: 02/12/2016 - 14:24:38 »
 Unfortunately, it will be a couple weeks before we find time to play. However, that gives me more time to prepare the adventure. Turning my focus to the first session (where I plan to introduce the scenario and follow up the warehouse lead), I've been fleshing it out as follows.
 The PC's have been invited to The Urchin Club by a Gladius "Company man" (who has arranged for access to the members-only club). There they are hired to discreetly investigate Winston Shanter and find out if he is up to anything bad. If so, the PCs are to figure out and - if possible - prove what that is. Furthermore, there will be a bonus for identifying accomplices. The PCs are told that their mark has gone missing, but that their employer has reasons to believe he is hiding under a false identity at The Venus on level 0.
 The Urchin Club scene will serve as the exposition of both the fist session and the adventure as a whole. In order to spice it up, however; I need to come up with a situation that hooks the players into the story right away.
 The complication will be served as soon as the PC's arrive at The Venus, as they will arrive but moments after the hit has been completed. Watchers have just sealed off the area, and the PC's will be forced to update their employer. The employer will insist that their assignment is still valid (perhaps even more so), and after a few moments will arrange for the PC's to get access to the crime scene. This will be a not-so-subtle hint regarding the influence of their employer, who will not have bothered to tell the PCs who he is or who he works for.
 At this point the rising tension will follow the adventure as described. My intention is to guide the PCs' investigation by providing results on the documents, but not the unidentified magnetic key; so that they end up tracking the hollow security firm and identifying the warehouse. This will be an excellent scene (or series of mini-scenes) to explore the investigation and social rules in Polaris RPG.
 The ambush at the Warehouse will serve as the climax for the first session. Once the situation is resolved, and the PCs establish a dialogue with the smugglers; the evening's session will be resolved by presenting the hints of the 'Mercenaries'.
 I have yet to work out the details of these 'mercenaries', but I'm leaning towards a Hegemony-sponsored Black Ops that'll somehow tie back to the Oscar Pevler/Melane-incident on Irminger (eventually).
 I still have some preparations to do before running this session:
 - Create the "Company Man" NPC and detail the specifics of his assignment.
 - Figure out a hook at The Urchin Club to get the adventure started with a bang.
 - Add some details to the investigation process of Documents -> Security Firm -> Warehouse Rental
 - Add some detail to the Smugglers, and generate an appropriate NPC to lead them.
 - Collect some appropriate inspirational images to show the players to help visualize the setting and enhance the mood.
 I also like to make a point of identifying what I want to achieve with a session, and in this case my primary focus is to introduce my players to Equinox and its mainstream culture. I want to establish Equinox as a "set point" in the Polaris setting, creating sort of a home ground for the players as we continue to explore this world.
« Modifié: 02/12/2016 - 14:26:54 par BlueRonin »

Hors ligne BlueRonin

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Re : [GM Only] Planning/Running "Industrial Espionage"
« Réponse #2 le: 02/01/2017 - 08:21:06 »
We managed to generate characters and run the first session before Christmas. The first part of the adventure ran more-or-less as expected and was a sucess amongst the players.

My group is organized around three of us who will meet up and play every second week, while other friends will turn up and play with pre-gen characters when they can. The two "core" players decided on creating a spy and a naval officer (merchant marine). Both were from the same small community in the Red League, and events had drawn them into business together in Equinox.

As noted earlier I chose to introduce the adventure by having the PCs hired by a company man to look into the disappearance of Winston Shanter. The characters were given a lead on where he might be living (under a false identity), and the assassination was set to just prior to their arrival at that lacation (I choose The Venus on Level 0). I was happy I chose this timing, because the players began their investigation by looking into Kora Company, Winston Shanter, and the identity of their employer first. As soon as they were confronted by the assassination, however; they were drawn in more directly and got focused on sweet-talking and bribing their way into the scene of the crime, especially once the victim was identified as their mark.

The two greatest challanges the players gave me as a GM this session was their investigation into corporate conflicts and the ambus at the warehouse. Since the PCs started looking into Kora Company before focusing exclusively on the hunt for Winston, questions were raised about certain corporate constalations, histories, agendas, and reputations. This was a great line of inquiry that I saw helped develop the mystery and tension of the adventure (What's going on behind the scenes of this disappearing Manager?), but it was a challange to feed this to the players on the spot. I wish I had been more prepared for this, with a slightly better knowledge of these relevant corporations and conflicts that could potentially thicken the plot. As it was I ended up weaving a tail of intriue relative to the technological arms race of supercavitation and hypercavitation torpedoes between Mediterrainean Union and the Hegemony, playing on Gladius's role as an arms company run by the Cult of the Trident in this conflict. Fortunately I managed to keep the whole subject inconclusive enough to "develop or drop" depending on how the story evolves.

The second GM challange was warehouse ambush. As soon as the PCs came under fire, their (sensible) tactic was to fall back with the intent of escaping. Had the PCs managed to get away, leaving the ambushing smugglers to escape; I felt this would greatly delay the storyline progression. Fortunately, one of the players took a nasty wound and I managed to keep them in the scene and push the confrontation to a cease fire where the cooler heads and dialogue prevailed. As it was the scene made for a nice climax/resolution for the first session, but like I said it felt like I got lucky. Seeing it from the players' perspective it made perfect sense to get out of there - both to avoid the ambushing smugglers and the attention from the inevitable Watcher response - but that would have left the session far less effective. I don't know how I would find the time to recover both a climatic scene and a satisfactory storyline progression before our real-world playing time would have run out that evening had the players escaped. This could simply have been fixed by how I set up the ambush (i.e. the map and how I described the scene), leaving no obvious avenue of escape.

It turned out well, however; and the players were both happywith the evening's session and keen to play again - what better stamp of approval is there? :) For my part actually running the first session on Equinox brought the city more to life, and thus made it both easier and more enjoyable re-reading the Equinox sourcebook. This time with a notebook marking referances to the various larger corporations and their agendas...

Hors ligne BlueRonin

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Re : [GM Only] Planning/Running "Industrial Espionage"
« Réponse #3 le: 14/01/2017 - 10:51:12 »
 The holiday season followed our last session, which I used to prepare our second session. Now that we're well underway with the adventure, the second part will mostly be a grind towards unravelling the mystery. So I went back to the 'chain of clues' that would unravel the mystery and fleshed it out a bit.
 Magnetic Key card -> Storage locker -> Data chip w/pictures  -> Petty drug dealer -> Identifying Arbed Valendo -> Identifying Arber's sister Janessa -> Janessa and Davon are also missing -> Finding Davon -> Hearing about the thugs that harassed Janessa -> Identifying those thugs as part of Dizlo's gang - Finding Dizlo's Gang -> Confronting Dizlo's gang.
 Having noted this chain of clues / events, I used the Equinox sourcebook and added notes on these scenes, their locations and relevant NPCs. If anybody is interested here is a link to the notes I wrote:
 As far as the whole adventure goes, this part solely constitutes the ‘rising tension’ of the story. Still, I needed to break this part into a wholistic structure that would make it more entertaining to play. I.e. as always I needed to start the session with a hook and complication, and wrap it up with a climax and resolution. The confrontation with Dizlo's gang made for an easy climax, where Dizlo's  revelations on the mercenaries a nice revelation. However, the Key Card made for a tricky introduction – not really a hook that one would expect to capature the attention and imagination of the players. Therefore I fast-forwarded the story a bit and kicked off the session with an in media res scene where the PC's were chasing a guy through The Bazaar.
 This had the players rolling dice and getting into a fast scene right away, and the moment they caught the guy I flashed back with a summary of events where the investigation of the Key Card had revealed a storage locker and digital picture (as per the adventure’s description). This had led to identifying the guy they had now been chasing as one of the two guys in that picture. However, the moment the characters confronted the petty drug dealer he made a run for it!
 At that point the adventure just rolled on, playing out as expected without any particular challenges as a GM! The most fun was introducing the shift in mood as the characters travelled down to the lower, rougher levels of Equinox.
 Now I'm keen on the third and what I expect will be the final session!
« Modifié: 16/01/2017 - 14:19:09 par BlueRonin »

Hors ligne Cyrull

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Re : [GM Only] Planning/Running "Industrial Espionage"
« Réponse #4 le: 15/01/2017 - 13:04:06 »
thank you for these reports ! :)

Hors ligne BlueRonin

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Re : [GM Only] Planning/Running "Industrial Espionage"
« Réponse #5 le: 29/01/2017 - 10:09:05 »
 We got to the third and final part of Industrial Espionage last Friday! Part two had ended right after the assault on the hideout of Dizo's Gang, and I initiated the first scene of part three as the characters were making their way back with the drugged and unconscious form of Janessa. I hit them with an ambush by local scavengers on Level -4 to warm them up with a light combat, then had their employer (Mr. Johnson) meet them at the Sea Eagle Clinic both to look after Janessa and to get a debrief.
 This provided a great character role-playing opportunity as well as a moment to summarize the mystery and what they had learned so far. A lot of the events earlier make for a somewhat disjointed mystery, but I'll get back to this in my summary. As it was, they had a location on Level -6 that might be the mercenaries' stronghold and a mission to figure out what these mercenaries had been up to. The plan the players came up with was to recruit a guide that would lead them to the location via service tunnels between the floors, and once they had confirmed the mercenaries' location Mr. Johnson would deploy a Gladius Strike Team to clean up. Easy!
 I let the characters recruit a guide through Lipos of Lipus Repair Show, and exposed them to the dangers of the service tunnels by hitting them with another ambush - this time a pack of Kraal Hounds as suggested in the module. This cost them their guide, leaving the characters to hack into terminals in order to find their way. They eventually found and confirmed the mercenaries' stronghold, and sat back to watch the Strike Team do their work. However, the climatic scene kicked off with a booby trap blowing up the overhead walkway the characters were hiding on and literally dropping them right into the action - the Strike Team was driving the mercenaries back, but the characters suddenly found themselves between the mercenaries and their exit! 

Hors ligne BlueRonin

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Re : [GM Only] Planning/Running "Industrial Espionage"
« Réponse #6 le: 29/01/2017 - 11:03:43 »
 The Industrial Espionage adventure description provided a nice framework for running a series of investigation/action-themed sessions of Polaris RPG. The adventure's hook is flexible enough to let GM's introduce just about any group of players to the adventure, and the plot synopsis provides a sequence of events that make it easy to keep the characters on track.

I ran the adventure over three sessions, and that seemed a comfortable pace. The first session introduced the adventure and followed up the lead on the warehouse. The second adventure followed up the key card and events as that led to confronting DIzlo’s Gang.  The third and final session covered the descent to Level -6 and confronting the mercenaries. A little preparation easily allows a GM to structure each session with a hook, complication, rising tension, climax and resolution – while at the same time raising the stakes with every session.

In my opinion, the greatest strength of this adventure is how it introduces Equinox. Of course, that is what is supposed to do, and I encourage GMs to make the most of this. I took note of the location for each step in the adventure, and the shorthand notes I made of the location’s description and character where some of the most useful preparations I did. Throughout the adventure is was great to see the players grew more and more familiar with the layout of Equinox, the character of its various levels, and some of the particular sights, locations and “Movers and Shakers” of the unusual city that is so critical to the Polaris RPG setting.

The adventure had its challenges, however; and I believe the most critical was the underlying plot. While I appreciate an adventure that provides space for a GM’s own campaign hooks, Industrial Espionage’s complete lack of explaining the core mystery was an issue. I made the mistake of starting the adventure before working out my own explanation for the mercenaries’ mission and motivation, and that resulted in a somewhat disjointed plot synopsis that confused the players. In the end I managed to clean up these confusions and resolve part of the mystery (while at the same time setting up hooks for future sessions), but this could have been handled far better. I encourage any GM planning to run this adventure to carefully work out all the motivations and underlying mysteries before starting the adventure, so that he or she has a much stronger “red line of continuity” to base his storytelling on than the adventure provides.

We had a lot of fun playing through Industrial Espionage, however; and that is what is important! Furthermore, having played the adventure my group of players now have a solid impression of – and familiarity with – the city of Equinox. However, I would argue that Industrial Espionage is an adventure that requires a bit of preparatory work by the GM. My advice is to thoroughly work out the mysteries and motivations before starting the adventure, and to take note of all the locations visited (making shorthand notes to describe visuals and characteristics of the various sites). Once the story is fleshed out the sequence should run quite smoothly, though; allowing you and the players to enjoy the ride!

 I’m really looking forward to more adventuring in the Polaris RPG setting, and hope to see the release of more supplements (hopefully with new adventures) soon!