Sunday, May 17, 2015

Adventure... or Deliver Cargo?


I've asked several groups of players "What type of character would you play in a sci-fi setting?" Invariably they say they want to be smugglers or traders. But the answer is misleading. What they really want is to be free of obligation or allegiance. They want to go wherever the wind takes them.

They don't want to spend each game making transport contracts, balancing the books, and studying which ports need what commodities.... all the things that preoccupy the minds of real cargo haulers.

Sure, cargo deliveries can be a source of plot hooks. You have...
  • Deliver dangerous cargo
  • Deliver cargo that other people don't want delivered
  • Deliver cargo that other people want to steal
  • Steal the cargo, then deliver it

And of course there is the ever popular plot twist "The client betrayed you!", which every player sees coming.

But lets face it, cargo delivery can be a bit monotonous. The real adventures that the heroes will be involved with are going to be illegal, personal, or outside the bounds of simple cargo runs. The Sci-Fi Companion has rules for trade, logistics, wages, and etc if you really find number crunching interesting. I would prefer another way, and Interludes may offer me a solution.

Think of the show Firefly. Non-consequential cargo runs conducted between planets (the jobs that get the heroes to the start of the adventure) are run off screen between episodes. We see them just finishing up a job when things start getting interesting.

So in that vein, at the beginning of each game we might assume that the heroes have made a cargo run that has taken them to the new planet. 

First, roll for the payday...


3d6 x $100 That's the profit the heroes earn after ship logistics are paid for (fuel, food, maintenance). This ought to keep the bookkeeping down.

One person can take the roll of negotiator (no cooperative rolls) for haggling the deal. For every Raise they score on the Streetwise roll, they increase the amount by $200. A Success leaves the payday unchanged. A Failure reduces the payday by $200.

Then Draw an Interlude card for the ship...


The card draw determines how things went for the crew.

Clubs
Something bad went wrong with the job. Rather than earning a payday they now owe the amount. They can either pay up, get hunted, or do a favor to whoever holds the lien (plot hook).

Diamonds
The job went smooth and everyone got paid. Each crew member gets a cut.

Hearts
The job broke even (no extra cash beyond the logistics fees), but the heroes gained some information or favors. Each crew member gains an extra benny for the adventure.

Spades
The job went even better than expected. Not only does the crew earn its payday but they also gain vital information or inspiration for the next adventure (+1 benny/ each).

So what do you think? Poll on the right hand side of the page.


4 comments:

  1. Dead on i think also with the fact that players don't really want to be rp'ing as cargo haulers. In my experience too anyway.
    That's a neat little system for fast forwarding past the boring bits.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dead on i think also with the fact that players don't really want to be rp'ing as cargo haulers. In my experience too anyway.
    That's a neat little system for fast forwarding past the boring bits.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like it, looks like a great way to fast forward past what many consider to be the boring bits of a trade based game - I may use something similiar when/if I run Edge of Empire in the future.

    I hope you don't mind but i've added your site to the blog roll on my own website: http://reddicediaries.com.gridhosted.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like it. I'll use it next time I run Savage Serenity.

    ReplyDelete