I don’t normally write session logs, which can feel a bit “let me tell you about my character”, but yesterday’s game of Coriolis has given me plenty to think about. So I thought I might process some of that here.
Yet again, it was a “at the last minute” game. Dave’s Symbaroum wasn’t ready for its planned slot, so I volunteered to run my next session of Coriolis. One of the reasons why I’ve been able to do this is that I’m taking a low-prep, play-to-find-out, approach to planning. I plan only the situation, not the solution, chooseing a few stat-blocks from the core book and then reacting to the player’s choices on the fly, making stuff up and using a couple of throws on the random name generator on the GMs screen to create adversaries and allies that I hadn’t planned for.
In fact this going to my first scenario, not the third. I’d planned it just after the characters were originally created, using the mission generator in the Atlas Compendium. Rather than rolling dice, I had used the icon cards, which added (with the icon and the extra word on each card) an extra layer of detail/inspiration.
These are the notes I took from that first draw of the cards:
Type: Difficult Nearby System 2 complications 14,000 Birr (Person of Influence)
Factionary (A thief)
Protection (Lost love)
A bazaar or market in a city or settlement (A trader)
Double agent (Greed)
Unexpected reinforcements (luck)
I notice I had also written: “ask one of the players if they have an ex-lover who was S/he? Now married (?) to Sister Almas, Order of the Pariah”, and that was my plan until the second session, when we discovered Tony’s character Salah had an ex-lover out for (his brother Yaphet’s) blood. So the “lost love” bit was transferred to Sister Almas, the factionary (though not a thief) which I’d selected to draw in Andy’s character Salem.
I has always planned to make the lover whatever gender the player chose, deciding that there would be no disapproval of homosexuality in this future, even among the Zalossians (though taking a lover from outside the Martyr faith is heresy). So, Sister Almas needed a trusted professional, to discreetly protect her lost lover, without alerting the Church of the Martyrs. I’d assumed that lover would be a woman and decided after the second session to keep that aspect, so all I had to was generate a name for her. But where was she? What sort of danger was she in? I thought she and Sister Almas might have met on some humanitarian mission, and so I decided that she had gone off into a War Zone and gone missing. I didn’t want to take the party to Zalos B, so I chose Hamura, the neighbouring system to Taoas, marked “dangerous” on the start charts.
I turned to the system generator as Hamura wasn’t detailed in the books (yet – more on that later). There were only two planets in this system, one a gas giant. Easy. These are my notes:
White Dwarf star
Known for: Portal Station Hamurabi, Samina’s Corsairs, Ion Storms
Planet Paradise 10,000km 0.7G, breathable atmosphere, temperate, earth like world
Population being (forcibly?) evacuated, through the busy spaceport, Almas’ lover involved somehow. Kidnapped?
Planet Shaitan Sulphur yellow Gas Giant 200,000km diameter
“The Eye of Shaitan” superstorm
You’ll note up I forgot the naming convention in the Horizon – that the primary planet and the star share the system name. Let’s just say that Paradise is what the locals call planet Hamura 🙂 That “forceable” evacuation was inspired by the “thief” and “greed” cards I’d drawn earlier. I imagined a corrupt Colonial Agent that was using the Taoan incident as an excuse for a planetary evacuation to steal land-rights from the Firstcome populace. He would have been named by Sister Almas as a trusted contact to aid the search for her lover. But is corruption might mean he was response for her disappearance, or planning to assasinate her when the PCs found her. Had she been kidnapped in protest at the forced evacuation? Or was she a ring-leader of the protests? I was sure I didn’t need to know that – we would “play to find out”.
But then Fria Ligan threw a spanner in the works. They released the Hamurabi supplement.
So now the gas giant wasn’t called Shaitan any more, rather Nestero, though I was determined that it would retain the superstorm and that at least would be called the Eye of Shaitan, otherwise I’d have to change my scenario title. Now it had a ice moon, and disgruntled minors to add to my disgruntled Paradisians. It also had a Colonial Agent, who I thought I should use as I just had generic stats for my villain. She was a woman now though, but I’m a equal opportunities GM, so I was cool with that. She didn’t seem as friendly as mine would have been though and wasn’t planetside, but I thought I could adapt the scenario to this new reality, just in case we return there in the future, to reduce the risk that I might forget any changes I made to the published material. I did have some frustration with the supplement though. I’d imagined that Hamura might have become some sort of mustering station, for Legion and Zalosian forces going into Taoas. That the partial would be in constant use, with warships jumping to Taoas and a very few battered survivors coming in the other direction, but the picture painted in the supplement is quieter, and despite all the extra military attention, and the lack of trade shipping, Samina’s coursairs still think it’s worth operating.
Anyhow, going through the supplement and making the required changes to the situation, was how I prepared for the session. Oh, and rolling the lost woman’s name: Hamza Arinites. In my next post on the subject I’ll share the events of play, which as I say, have given me a good deal to think about.