Home > Between the Lines, Game Development, Jointhesaga.com, OtherSpace > Between the Lines: “The Lost Missionaries, Part I”

Between the Lines: “The Lost Missionaries, Part I”

This event started with a news story earlier in the week about a group of Opodian missionaries who went missing in the jungles of Kamsho while off on a journey to convert a village of Tupai to their faith in the goddess Opodi.

I didn’t specifically plan a time for the event. I had another potential event in mind that would have been a follow-up to the assassination attempt on Marisa, but on Friday evening I was pinged by a player about hunting for the missing Opodians.

So, with just a couple of hours notice, I announced that players who wanted to participate should get to the Kamsho landing pad in Ope’mot. I wasn’t sure how many players we’d get. This was the first Friday night event that I had run in about two years. It turns out: I got plenty. More than enough, really. The initial group consisted of Dean, Razorback, Narai, Jaswinder, Kestrel, Sheppard, Umishi, and Thayndor Zahir. Internet issues knocked Dean out early, but the rest plugged along.

Thayndor was the last to arrive. There was some joking almost immediately on the OOC side of things about everyone conspiring to kill him before the event was over. His creepy ghost uncle, Zolor Zahir, even showed up and made comments about the prospects of his hideous demise. I thought it was just a big joke. Heh. Joke’s on me. We’ll get to that later.

I introduced the gang to their shuttle pilot, Olabn Opo’te. He was an affable Opodian, struggling to learn Terran Standard and mangling it badly, but with much enthusiasm. He made one comment that really had people scratching their heads. If they go back and read carefully, I’m hoping it becomes clear that Olabn said he’d seen them on holovid and wasn’t sure he approved of their Kamir artifact hunting. It seemed so obvious to me at the time. *ducks*

Everything was a weird shade of Predator as the shuttle flew this ragtag group over jungle to a drop zone to start the hunt for the missionaries. After the landing, everyone clambered out and immediately started toward a path leading into the jungle toward the Tupai village. The excitement began behind them, however, aboard the shuttle – now closed – with shadowy figures attacking Olabn. They could hear his desperate screams. They ran back to the shuttle in time for the cargo bay hatch to slide open and reveal my big plot secret of the week: OHSHIT! AUKAMI VAMPIRES! Two of them, dripping in the blood of the late shuttle pilot.

How I thought it would play out next: One of the Aukami would probably get gunned down, but players would keep one alive for questioning about the fate not only of the missionaries, but of the other missing expedition. After all, this was a rescue mission worth 75,000 Hekayti credits. It wasn’t supposed to be an excuse to go and shoot things. Some characters got this, going so far as to yell that they should be taken alive or wounded. Yeah. That wasn’t in the cards.

Sheppard blew the first Aukami away with little effort. The second tried an acrobatic maneuver to escape, but Kestrel shot him in mid-air. I asked if her intent was to kill or wound. Her answer: Head shot. So, both Aukami, dead – but not before the second could cry out “The others…,” dropping the fairly blatant hint that, yes, the players had killed the first two, but the jungle might be full of more.

Under other circumstances, I think this would have been the end of the event. I didn’t feel all that interested in reffing a hunt through the jungle with a group that so clearly had differing ideas about the point of this mission. However, Thayndor’s presence meant the time-space lost specter of Zolor Zahir was around. That gave me an in for another reveal: I had an entity presenting himself as Il’ri Kamm – one of the original Kamir – “possess” the ghost. At first, only Thayndor could see him. Eventually, the entire group could. Kamm offered some exposition about his “children,” who were outcast from Aukam, and who really just wanted Narai if everyone else wanted to leave.

Were people interested?

Well.

No. Not really. With the immediate goal of killing the Aukami out of the way, Jaswinder decided this would be a great time to try to kill Thayndor. Raised his gun and fired.

Was I happy? I’m trying to remember if I had my happy face. I’m pretty sure the happy face was hiding in a bunker while the hard case prepared to rage. I don’t think I would have been as aggravated if this hadn’t been telegraphed so blatantly through OOC chatter. It made no logical sense to me. First, the “rescue” party had elements from the get-go that didn’t do ANYTHING remotely like a decent rescue party, although others had clearly good intentions. Now this left turn into a Tarantino-style standoff. It really felt a lot like showboating and a bit of metagaming.

Fortunately(?), Jaswinder didn’t have a Killing Blow card handy, so Thayndor wasn’t going to lose his character just because he had the misfortune of answering a call to an event that Jaswinder and friends just happened to attend. Still, Jaswinder gave it a go. Umishi tried to throw herself on Thayndor, wanted to take the shot for him if possible. Valiant, but the shot hit Thayndor in the arm. Thayndor then used his Temperature Control skill to overheat the energy pistol in Jaswinder’s hand. I predicted what would happen next correctly enough: Jaswinder threw the gun toward Thayndor like a grenade. Meanwhile, Kestrel was doing what she could to try to negate Thayndor’s efforts to protect himself – first, trying to disrupt the Temperature Control, and then trying to prevent Thayndor from using Telekinetics to hurl the gun away into the jungle.

Finally, Razorback intervened, putting himself between both combatants. Speechifying ensued. Hostilities simmered to a dull boil thanks to Sheppard poking a carrot into Jaswinder’s mouth. However, by this time, even Il’ri Kamm had grown bored with the squabbling of Outversers and vanished into the night.

Where we stand now: We’ve got a group of would-be rescuers ready to kill each other, two dead Aukami, a missing time-space lost Fastheldian regent now possessed by an ancient Kamir, and no clue where to hunt for the missionaries or the first expedition members.

The wackiness is written off ICly as “Jaswinder’s crazy.” Fine. I can buy that for Jaswinder. For others? It felt like the purpose of *their* mission had morphed from participating in the rescue event to taking advantage of being away from Comorro (and her protection of inhabitants) so they could do away with an annoying character. That’s why it smacks a little of metagaming to me. Sure, there’s a line where one could argue that Thayndor is annoying ICly and, if given the chance, someone might try to gun him down. But in the middle of a crisis? In the middle of a rescue effort? That didn’t make any sense to me, and it rankled, but I let it stand.

The adventure continues on Sunday. I’ll be intrigued to see what happens next.

Edited to add: This link to the log of Part I.

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  1. Razorback
    February 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I myself was seriously confused by what happened. While Thayndor once said something to Razor that almost got him eviscerated (fortunately for him, it was his pose-out 😉 ), the circumstances last night just seemed … weird.

  2. Sergeytov
    February 20, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Ah, the art of trying to kill another PC. As many other ‘bad things’ my characters have done in the past, killing another PC is not yet on that list.

    Having only read this post and not the log proper (I’m rarely a fan of reading logs and all), I have to say I’m vaguely reminded of a tabletop campaign going wrong (or it’s a game of Paranoia). By ‘gone wrong’, I mean where you get an ‘evil PC party’, send ’em off to a place with deathtraps, and hijinks ensue. Most people who tabletopped long enough know exactly what I mean.

    I was working on a hypothesis on this kind of thing at one point, or probably read something similar somewhere. It goes something like, “There’s a lot of places on grid where, if you kill someone/maim them, you’re going to get in trouble. Most people are reasonably intelligent about avoiding areas if they have a lot of enemies/can’t handle the area (Old TK comes to mind here). Events/adventures that take place in the ‘grey areas’, where law theoretically exists but it’s hard to enforce lead to metaphorical ‘accidents’ and other things leading to someone getting hurt/killed, mostly because of the fact there’s little chance of enforcement, and the fact a PC one wants to kill is more liable to be in that area.”

    It’s also a mental ‘standing order’ for PCs, who think of things like, “Who’d I kill/maim if I could get away with it if it ever comes up?” and that’s where these things might come from, especially since it’s only one chance. Is it a touch metagamey? Probably, but likely not too much more than PCs being hunted who hang out @rp when the hunters are around or manage to implausibly see through any subterfuge that might lead to them dead.

    • February 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm

      I think I’d be less concerned about the situation if this had just been some random “Hey, we’re going to a gray area!” kind of event. But it wasn’t. This was specifically advertised as a “We’re going to rescue some missing people” event, which morphed into something new because of the personalities involved.

      I’m actually not saying this is right or wrong – it’s a collaborative, fluid environment, and shit happens. I just like for it to make some kind of sense within the overall context. It came across that some of the “rescuers” weren’t there for anything of the kind or, if they were, it was just an afterthought.

      As for the situation as a whole: I rolled with it and it stands. I’m not crying retcon, because it’s just not necessary. (And if they HAD the means to finish Thay off during the scene, I would have allowed it.) I do think it’ll be an interesting ride back to Ope’mot, if they all make it out of the jungle alive.

  3. Razorback
    February 20, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I just realized that Razor played Paladin in that scene… Weird.

  4. Arie Taylor
    February 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    …I guess it does seem out of the blue, since it’s out of context for anyone that’s not on the crew of Aukam’s Light. They aren’t exactly nice people. ‘Who I’d like to kill’ is a perfectly valid dinner conversation, so one could say that it’s come up before. Bad timing? Oh yeah. Definitely. Hence why Kestrel didn’t simply try to fire around/past Razorback (not to mention the fact that she actually respects the big furry lug, and he was totally right). In fact, she’ll quite possibly be offering to patch Thay up — whether she likes it or not, he *is* a member of the party, and having him weakened is a Bad Thing(tm).

    When things escalated to ‘hostile’, well… yes. Kestrel would try to suppress psionics used in her general vicinity. She’s seen Thay use his powers before, and knows that he’s pretty bloody powerful. She had no way of knowing that it was being used on Jazz’s gun rather than Jazz himself until he reacted to it overheating. She had no way of knowing that Thay wasn’t trying to deflect the overloading pistol back in Jazz’s direction, and therefore *her* direction. Not negating would’ve actually been more meta.

    Kes is definitely there for the money. No rescue, no paycheck. As such, she cares about the rescue on that level. As for shooting both of the Aukami dead — I simply couldn’t see the character doing anything less than killing the remaining one, especially given the crazy acrobatics it was pulling (rather than just, y’know, running away). Potentially allowing it to escape to haunt the group later by not taking the kill shot would be a bad move in her eyes. Wounding it, to me, would’ve been meta since I knew I had an automatic success due to the action card I burned.

    So there you have it. 🙂 Hopefully that explains my actions, at least.

  5. Michela
    February 20, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    OK. I can actually take a guess at what was the motivation Icly, but that’s for Jazz’s player to say if they so choose. I actually see a larger issue though in terms of how one looks at RP as being a script that has to be adhered to or RP that evolves as it will. I haven’t any idea if there was something said oocly by Jazz player that may have indicated there wasooc anger there as well. What I take issue with is the notion that he through the scene off of how it was supposed to go. No one else had a script, Some people, myself included, let character drive RP. Jazz had a stronger IC emotion in play and was running with it.If the player had said, my job here is to adhere to scene as advertised to make sure everyone else gets what they expect, that’s the admin’s job by and large, if it’s anybody’s. I would make the argument that most players go into RP expecting to be surprised and entertained and an rp that marches straight from A to B without a stop off at x first is a bit of a disappointment. your players and their interpersonal relationships are the x factor. A group of “grey chars aren’t that way only in specially designed plots. They are who they are and react as such. You’ll eventually hit B regardless.

    • February 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm

      I certainly never said it was *supposed* to go a certain way. I’ve specifically said that I had a way I thought it would go. I’ve ultimately got no qualms with the *IC* action that was taken. However, these “Between the Lines” analyses are intended to provide a platform for discussion about my thoughts after these events – and it was, no doubt, aggravating to see things evolve due to what appeared to be a long-standing OOC (*and* IC) vendetta.

      What happened would have made a lot more sense to me if it had worked more like when Falkenberg offed Harris during the prison camp rescue adventure ages ago. Harris, like Thayndor, had a lot of enemies. Falkenberg saw the rescue through, but when it was done, he shot Harris dead (much to the horror of Harris’ girlfriend and the later dismay of Col. Porter, whose ship was the site of the killing).

      I don’t care when things don’t go as I expect them to: That’s part of what I love about these experiences – dealing with the unexpected and making opportunities out of every strand that flies free. I do care if the twists aren’t fully motivated by IC behavior – but I’ve acknowledged that I’ll accept Jaswinder’s insanity defense and Kestrel has made her reasons clear enough.

      The scene rolls on tomorrow 🙂

  6. Jazz
    February 20, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    My defense? “Going postal” would be the IC defense. The reasons for Jazz’s actions were stated, unfortunately at length, at the time and ICly. This was the first time that all the rage built up over about a year of *every single scene* between Jazz and Thayndor going badly had an outlet that wouldn’t *immediately* end with, for example, being eaten by Comorro.

    OOCly? I’m not particularly fond of the player and I think he’s had some boneheaded ideas, and mostly I’m just content to stay out of his way and everybody’s happy. ICly, Jazz hit the point of “if I get the chance, I’ll kill the sonofabitch” way the hell back in…February or so, right after the cute little Episode involving Thayndor being a complete snot at Jest, in the presence of the Artemis crew, to her face, and assuming that she (and the crew) were too stupid to realize he was dissing them.

    There have been IC discussions between Jazz and *several* other PCs, some of them captains, to the effect of “I don’t trust him” or “If you think I’m serving on the same ship as that jackass you’re crazy”, or “If he sets foot on this ship (read: is out of Comorro’s sight) I will do my damndest to kill him.” By and large the only person he’s said this to that has even in the *slightest* way said ‘you know, that’d be bad, don’t do that’ has, in fact, been Sandrim. A lot of responses have been in the range of “sure, wouldn’t bother me” to “can I help?”

    This was not ‘out of the blue’. This has been an IC stance of Jazz’s for many, many months. And had I known Thayndor was going to be at the event I would not have asked to attend.

    That is because I, OOCly, do not like to kill PCs even when they really damned annoy me or when I ICly would be obliged to try. I avoid being around those characters. I avoid being around those players if I have to. I didn’t buy the damn kill card because honestly when it comes down to it I don’t want to kill another PC. My metagaming has been in entirely the opposite direction of your accusation; I’ve been AVOIDING the confrontation.

    But when the scene’s started, and there’s no real IC way to suddenly bow out, and bam, there’s Thayndor being his usual jackass self…and then we go away from the authorities into a nice jungle area where it’s entirely possible Jazz could just blame it on the vampires – or die himself soon afterward – no, that’s a golden opportunity that has to be played through.

    When I said Jazz was crazy, I meant that he doesn’t have a mindset that would consider the end of the world or mortal danger a reason to not take that chance to do what he’s been itching to do and get away from it.

    I am glad that I had the chance to not make it a fight that lasts all night or causes a full blown inter-PC conflict. And I will credit Thayndor with that. At the ultimate heart of it Jazz wants Thayndor to *not be a giant flaming asshole* to him and everyone he knows. He’s just had no reason whatsoever before *shooting* Thayndor to think that that might be accomplished short of putting a gun to the guy’s head. Thayndor’s been played the same way for as long as I’ve known the character.

    There, my defense. Next time, mr. chief admin person, try talking to me about my actions in a less public forum than OPEN TO THE WHOLE BLEEDING INTERNET and I’ll be less pissy in my responses. It really bakes my day when my friends that don’t even play on OS are pinging me with ‘what’s up with THAT?’ before I’ve had my caffeine, y’get me?

    • February 20, 2010 at 11:11 pm

      No defense necessary. You’re really taking it all out of proportion.

  7. Rarhamut
    February 20, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Jazz :Next time, mr. chief admin person, try talking to me about my actions in a less public forum than OPEN TO THE WHOLE BLEEDING INTERNET and I’ll be less pissy in my responses. It really bakes my day when my friends that don’t even play on OS are pinging me with ‘what’s up with THAT?’ before I’ve had my caffeine, y’get me?

    ProTip: The whole “Internet Tough Guy” routine generally doesn’t have any effect on Brody, nor does it tend to make you sound at all credible.

    • Jazz
      February 21, 2010 at 12:07 am

      So we’ve gone from ‘no defense necessary’ to needing to sound credible? That’s kind of you to admit.

      You don’t need to explain how things work to me, dragon. I’ve worked both sides of all the fences. But thanks for thinking I might have forgotten. No, I did this for myself. That’s the only real reason to do anything. And standing there and taking things and just hoping it would go away if I avoided it is pretty well exactly what led to the situation in the first place.

  8. Rarhamut
    February 21, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Jazz :So we’ve gone from ‘no defense necessary’ to needing to sound credible?

    You mean you don’t need to sound credible? Well, my mistake then. Carry on.

  9. Chiro
    February 21, 2010 at 4:31 am

    -leaves nice comment-

    I just wanted to say that despite everything, I think that these reflective pieces are a good idea. You might be inclined to discontinue them due to all this comment crap, but I think that’d be a shame, I for one am certainly learning and enjoying the reading, thank you kindly for the opportunity 🙂

    • February 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

      Nah, I have no intention of ending them any time soon – and certainly not over this.

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