New Campaign: Objects in Space

  • 47 Replies
New Campaign: Objects in Space
« on: April 20, 2011, 03:30:43 PM »
Our new "near earth orbit" AW game starts tomorrow. Super excited! We've been trading poorly Photoshopped pictures of MIR and throwing around character concepts over email, but it'll be so much more exciting when we finally sit down and play.

The premise is that earth no longer supports life, so humanity is basically whatever remnants were up in space or could get themselves off-planet at the time of the apocalypse. It's a hodge-podge of jury-rigged space stations, transport pods, and military shuttles, a bunch of satellites that might be converted into living spaces, several moon bases, and maybe some folks way far away on Mars, nigh-unreachable.  All the gear is getting tattered and worn-out, since most of it was salvaged or re-purposed in the first place, and the supply of chemical candles we've been burning for oxygen is getting dangerously low. One might even say "fundamentally scarce."

Here's the two custom moves I've written so far:

When you are out in space without a pressure suit, doing anything but waiting for your blood to boil is acting under fire. Also, you take 2 harm AP every few moments. Better do something fast!

When you are running low on oxygen, start a countdown clock. From 12:00 to 6:00, breathing is labored, it becomes hard to think straight after physical activity, nerves are on edge; take -1 ongoing. From 6:00 to 9:00, you really have to push yourself to keep from becoming distracted or falling asleep; act under fire to take significant physical or mental actions. 10:00, 11:00, and 12:00 come really fast, one after another, boom, boom, boom. For each one, take 1 harm AP. After 12:00, you lose consciousness (if you haven't already) and take 1 harm AP every few moments. Good luck!

I have a few ideas for threats, but I'm going to wait and run the first session like you're supposed to, asking a bunch of questions and seeing what emerges.

Sounds like the players are interested in trying out some of the new moves from the supplemental playbooks I've been trading around, so I'm looking forward to seeing those in play too.

More reports as things develop!

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2011, 03:49:16 PM »
I'm excited for this.

I'm strongly leaning towards playing a Faceless who perpetually wears a pressure suit with a one-way visor, though I'll wait until we sit down with the group for the session tomorrow to make a final decision about that.

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2011, 03:59:24 PM »
Lukas, I just finally saw Tron: Legacy and it reminds me a bit of Rinzler/Tron. Some total badass in a pressure suit, with reflective black glass for a face.

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2011, 04:09:12 PM »
Here's another move that Andy requested:

When you give yourself willingly to the black void of space, roll+weird. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 2. On a failure, you're just dead and nobody's particularly bothered that you went crazy.  In any event, after you're dead, spend your hold 1-for-1 to make someone doubt that anyone has a right to survive. Treat it as if you rolled a 10+ on seduce or manipulate, and tell them that something beautiful, valuable, or critical to human survival must be destroyed.

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2011, 04:10:22 PM »
This game is happening only a few miles away and I can already feel the heat of its awesomeness.

Lukas: Best Faceless evar.

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2011, 04:16:49 PM »
Ha! Just realized that Rinzler is the Vader to Emperor Clu. Why is everything old always new again?  Still, Vader makes a pretty good Faceless too, yeah?



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Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2011, 04:26:11 PM »

Space makes AW seem like a picnic.

Manuring in orbit even with computer assistance requires an intuitive grasp of orbital mechanics - i.e. you're working fairly complex and counter intuitive formula in your head.  Plus you need a couple kinds of radar and a telescope, because everything is far. The Driver playbook becomes much, much more important. Fucking up means orbital decay, lethal collisions or bingo propellant.

Propellant becomes more important than oxygen. Ion thrusters solve this problem in some ways, by trading power for efficiency. If you want to move fast it'll come at high costs in terms of propellant.

I assume that that most folks have basically nuclear subs in space, mutatis mutadis. With a nuke, you can recycle CO2, water and oxygen pretty much indefinitely. The fissile materials are either slowly running down or coming from the moon. That, and maintaining a reactor isn't exactly easy or free.

Everyone is vulnerable to everyone else in orbit because you can just put a small hunk of whatever in an intersecting orbit and wait for the two collide as high speeds. Tracking every bit of stuff up there becomes a vital task.

Food would be scarce. Oddly enough, water and oxygen are likely to be in relative abundance.

Radiation is a big problem. Even with 'shielding.' (Like you dragged anything that dense into orbit. You're probably using water to shield yourself because that mass does double duty - mostly as a coolant for the reactor.) As are the effects of micro-gravity on just about every aspect of biology. It's conceivable that one's lifespan in orbit, barring radical germline genetic engineering or significant advances in material sciences, is maybe ten years. Cancer and immune diseases would be very common.

A note on the asphyxiation move: once you stop breathing, you have maybe five minutes before you start taking any serious brain damage. Usually more like three. After that you're toast.

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2011, 04:33:46 PM »
Awesome stuff, Nathan. I'll definitely be stealing from that. Some aspects of our orbital apocalypse may be like Vincent's "always enough fuel and bullets" setting rule in AW, where we hand-wave away stuff that doesn't interest us, but it should be real enough to feel right, definitely.

The asphyxiation rule, right now, assumes that the oxygen will get thinner and thinner instead of just being cut off entirely.  I'm drawing on cinematic inspiration like Sunshine and that Firefly episode. And the AP harm you keep taking after you lose consciousness is the brain damage coming on. Not a pretty way to go.



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Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2011, 06:51:36 PM »
Yeah, I was spit balling ideas for scarcities, threats and fronts. Make it real, right? Use whatever you want. 

I deleted part of my post about low oxygen sickness / passing out.

The thing is with space suits is that it wouldn't pump the CO2 back into the suit, it'd store it for O2 recovery. Once oxygen/nitrogen mix is in the black you pass out and die in about five minutes. Before that, you're fine. Nervous and panicked, but still conscious. That move would work well in, say, the larger space of a ship but in a space suit it's a kind of all or nothing situation. The question becomes making last long by either turning down the O2 in the mix or breathing slower and moving less.

So, for a space suit I'd do this:

12:00-3:00 : Green
3:00-6:00 : Yellow
6:00-9:00 : Red. At this point your friends should be coming for a heroic rescue.
9:00-10:00 : One action, under fire and the fire is passing out.
10:00-11:00: Unconscious + Mark a debility.

But like you said, if you want the death spiral, it's your game. Just MHO.

Fires in space are super dangerous.

Decompression isn't usually explosive. In the way that cars don't blow up when you shoot at them. If you're going for the cinematic thing, then maybe when it happens it's really dramatic. Most, it's a small hole that you can't find that's slowly leaking atmosphere. Atmosphere that you'll never get back. Big holes are worse but no one is likely to be 'sucked out.'

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2011, 07:01:48 PM »
"You and your passengers may have suffered some slight bone loss..."

I was thinking broodmother ... then fallen ... now I'm thinking savvyhead because he'll be so god-damned useful, who else is going to keep our control rods controlled. CAN'T DECIDE! BRAIN ANEURYSM!

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2011, 10:22:08 PM »
Nathan: Nice. I really like the idea of the old chemical oxygen candles that the Soviets used, so I think the station should start with a stash of those that's almost blown through. If they want to try to capture a nuclear satellite or find another way to get a reactor, we should probably tackle that in play. Too much fun!

Jamie: Well, you better rack up that XP fast and get a second character! I'm just looking forward to making a hard-assed station boss and their thugs when none of you cats decides to play the Hardholder.



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Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2011, 01:05:52 AM »
Super Sweet situation!
Some of the playbooks have awesome appeal in this AW - I really like the idea of Savvyheads in the near earth Orbit. More Shtick then ever!

Oh and the questions! The first session has all these 'extra' twists to the standard start-up provacation...
Where's your digs? Describe 'em.
How do you get all the fundamental scarcities?
Is earth really uninhabitable? How do you know?
How do you punish folks who do bad things?

Oh, how my mind is spinning with the possibilities! I think I may be able to run an impromptu Easter game which was going to be DW and have now been inspired to pitch it 'Under the sea'. A la the Abyss, or Jules Verne, or Oceanspace by Allen Steele. Thanks Everyone!

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2011, 02:01:26 PM »

Can you explain why oxygen and water would not be scarce? Is it because they're easier to recycle, or what?

What's the science or rationale behind this statement?




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Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2011, 04:15:29 PM »
Basically with a reactor you can purify and electrolyze all the water and oxygen you need, and run a regenerative carbon dioxide removal system on top of that. The RCRS requires a ten hour 400 degree baking cycle. Since if you're running around with a nuke that won't be a problem. Water can act as radiation shielding. You can use it as a coolant if you're using something like a CANDU reactor. So, you probably brought a lot of it up with you because as mass, water is more flexible than lead. Nuclear submarines rely on the fact that there's an abundance of sea water around but it's conceivable that one could implement a fairly sustainable system, if you brought enough up with you.

The problem is that CO2 scrubbers aren't really all that sustainable for long periods. That's the real issue: you're eventually going to run out of sorbent before you run out of water and thus oxygen.

Sorry, I haven't really answered you question: Yes, they're easy to recycle. With electrolysis you can turn water in to H and O. You then use the H and O for fuel cell batteries (which would then produce water vapor), and the O for breathing. Central problem, again, is the CO2 produced by breathing. I'm not sure if there is a process by which you could recover the the O from that. Algae?

Yeah, water would be scarce eventually as these cycles aren't 100% efficient. But you'd starve or die from CO2 poisoning first. Suppose you had a way of dealing with that or you brought a lot of sorbent to soak up all that CO2. Food becomes the next biggest problem.

I guess they could grow it on the moon?

I was just looking this up and the lunar crust is made up of 15% lime, and recent surveys have pretty much said that there are large ice sheets on the north pole of Luna. A common sorbent for CO2 scrubbing is slake lime, aka lime and water.

Shit, that's where they get their sorbent and water from: the moon!

With only oxygen candles and CO2 scrubbers, the PCs are gonna have to make a move real soon.

It's not that water and oxygen wouldn't be scarcities; it's that they're not first on the list.

The list as far as I see it is:

Health (radiation and the effects of micro-gravity)
Electrical power

Depending on how you solve for some of these, that'd change the nature of the others.

Like with the nuclear reactor, you'd need to think about coolant and shielding. Water is a nice solution but you'd need a lot of it. But it would also solve some of your being irradiated, your oxygen and your power problems. The primary scarcities become sorbent and propellant.

But if you're up in Mir with plenty of oxygen candles, sorbent, food and solar cells but really low on water then, yeah, water is gonna be your biggest problem.

Re: New Campaign: Objects in Space
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2011, 06:29:38 PM »
Hmm... the ratio of Science to Space Facelesses in this thread is reaching unstable proportions. I will help.