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OtherSpace: “Even Stones Yield” post mortem

In the finest tradition of OtherSpace events of the past, the weekend “Even Stones Yield” activity didn’t come with much of a script attached.

What was set in stone for the asteroid-threatens-to-blow-up-world caper:

  • A grid of several rooms to represent the asteroid for players to land on and explore. I built only what was needed to tell the fundamental story, but it could be expanded upon and changed should it become part of the permanent game grid.
  • Players would discover that the rock wasn’t just a natural chunk of rock. Instead, it contained some architecture and machinery.
  • Players would discover that a colony of Lotorians lived deep inside and this chunk of rock was believed to be the last piece of the lost ancient homeworld of their race.

Everything else just evolved organically, often on a whim or thanks to inspiration from the players involved in the adventure.

One such moment provided an opportunity for the event’s only point of random chaos involving dice rolls. After the adventurers reached the bottom of the damaged elevator shaft, Lucy included a phrase in her pose about how something was “way over her head.” In my mind, this led to a cinematic camera tracking shot up the shaft to a wobbly boulder about to break loose and fall. I used the MUSH random number generator command to pick a number from 0-49. I got 21. Blackjack! I informed the players that I would roll for each of them. Should anyone get exactly 21 for their roll, they would be hit by the boulder.

Everyone avoided the boulder’s impact except for Dean. Luckily, he’s a Phyrrian, so the boulder didn’t kill him – it just severely damaged him. As the guy who got hit by the rock, Dean had the chance to be the hero, using his pose to help shove his comrades out of harm’s way so that he could take the blow instead.

Aside from this, we didn’t use dice at all. Everything else was character and plot.

I knew going into the event that I’d need to play up the contentious and utterly irrational nature of the conflict between the Opodians and Llivori on Kamsho, but I couldn’t entirely predict how the players would deal with their brinksmanship. I certainly didn’t expect that it would lead to some dramatic in-character conflicts between captain and crew, but it did.

At one point, the Llivori and Opodian governments had both launched their entire nuclear arsenals at the oncoming asteroid while Garviel’s crew waited for the Lotorians repair the rift drive inside the big rock. Frustrated with the madness unfolding before her, Lucy broke regulations by communicating with the authorities on Kamsho, trying to convince them to disarm the nukes. Garviel silenced Lucy by blasting her in the back of the head with a stun pistol. No doubt, this’ll have some impact on crew morale!

The event revealed the following twists:

  • The asteroid was occupied.
  • The occupants were Lotorians.
  • The asteroid was all that remained of the ancient world of Lotor.
  • The Lotorian colonists had captured the deposed Zar, Hideg Fekretu, near Rigor Strand.
  • The ex-Zar paid for his continued survival by equipping the asteroid with a rift drive.
  • A Medlidikke pirate arrived to take Fekretu and collect on a bounty. The Lotorians thought maybe they should be the ones to profit from such a bounty, so they activated the rift drive without really knowing what they were doing. This led to the asteroid popping into existence again close to Kamsho. It also caused a structural collapse that killed both Fekretu and the pirate.

The players discovered the Zar’s body early on the second day of the event, as they cleared rubble from in front of the elevator shaft. This was another of those moments that just sort of snuck up on me. I had expected them to find dead bodies, and originally they were going to be Lotorians, but I decided on the spot that I didn’t want to reveal that part until later.

So what would I reveal instead? Well, the Zar’s always been a threat hanging out there, but I’d never really gotten attached to him as a character. He really has to be the most one-dimensional bad guy I’ve ever introduced. The only purpose he ever really served was to create a fleet that would become a force to be reckoned with in the universe, our answer to Emperor Palpatine, but he never really got traction as a workable character for me. So, he ended up in the rubble. When last we left him, Fekretu was being hunted by the Medlidikke, and thus I determined that he’d have a companion going with him to the afterlife.

We had a few points with pacing issues during the event, but not many. Sometimes people would lose track of pose order, but other times it was my fault for letting the action go too slack for a while. This was more of an issue on the second day. The first night went incredibly well, from my perspective.

The final hurdle we ran into was sharing the spotlight. Garviel, a character player by an admin, was in command of the action after Dean was struck by the boulder in the elevator shaft. We don’t really like to have admin-played characters “hogging” all the fun. So, I improvised an NPC who came up with a plan that would give Lucy and Newt something important to do – something that would save the day – while Garviel stuck to coordinating his troops.

The initial feedback from the event was good, and we struck the notes that I wanted to strike. Players who didn’t hate the denizens of Kamsho before sure hate them now, and anyone who hated them before will absolutely loathe them now. The Lotorians now have an Ungstir-like homeworld floating around out there in the galaxy somewhere. The ex-Zar is dead. And the epic storyline has returned to OtherSpace.

I want to thank everyone who participated. It’s always important for an event coordinator to remember that without the players, your big idea for a grand adventure won’t be anything more than that. It requires collaboration, creativity, trust, and a good sense of humor and fair play to make it work. Garviel, Dean, Lucy, Newt, Umishi, Hess, Amanda, and Franceza definitely made this a worthwhile experience for me.

Can’t wait for next month!

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  1. Lucy
    January 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Yeah, the Opodians and Llivori are now on my crap list. If I were in charge, I’d glass the planet right about now. But I’m not. Oh well!

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