Design Diary: Flying Pig Campaign 4

(Originally posted on on 9/18/2009)

Okay, this time I’m going to be better prepared for my next session of the Flying Pig mini-campaign. Let’s review. Two of six sessions down, they’ve gotten refueled, gotten a job to Verbena, and learned what value their surprise cargo (survey data on Columbiana) has.

But it’s never easy. The player whose character was the plot lynchpin for this mini-campaign is missing the second game in a row. I stalled one game but I can’t drop a third of the campaign waiting for one player. So, time for a refit.

I still want the Columbiana data to be the core of the plot. But I have to break open the Vinnie character so he’s willing to part with the data. Hmmm, that just doesn’t make sense for the character, even player-less. Now I set up some clues that Vinnie’s brother Bruno had some plan for that datacube. Vinnie would do a lot if he thought it was going to save his brother.

Time to bring in the brother.

This should be very Firefly-esque, introducing a quirky character with a scheme to catch the crew. Bruno had a scheme for that datacube but let’s say that he’s been captured or imprisoned some way so he can’t reach Vinnie or do the job. He has to convince his brother to pull the job to save his life. Cool. Let’s look at the clues that I put in Bruno Franco’s box.

  • Small, leather-bound bible given to him by Mama Franco
  • Clothes: Bruno’s regular Rim-world gear but also two uniforms for the Alliance Navy, both petty officers, one sized for Bruno, one sized for Vinnie
  • A leather roll with mundane but somewhat odd metal parts and tools in it.
  • Three partial decks of cards, scattered over the bottom of the crate.
  • Four Alliance Rations Bars (Vegetarian Version)
  • A stack of music data modules, almost all scribbled with Chinese characters for the artists, tied together with twine.
  • A large, thick copy of the Koran with a metal buckle lock.
  • Most of the crate’s bulk is filled with blankets and a cold-weather parka.
  • Small card from a nice Tong club on Persephone with a phoenix drawn on the back. The card is very worn and faded.
  • Seven claim stakes (3′ long stell shaft, computer at head protected from hammer damage) tied together with twine.
  • Notably Missing: Bruno’s guns: a pair of Sidewinder pistols he cherishes.

    Now I’m pretty proud of that list. So far, I don’t know what Bruno’s plan was exactly, but I gave myself a lot of fun things to play around with when plot-weaving. Let’s see what I want to do with them…

  • The bible shows Vinnie that Bruno did NOT leave his stuff willingly.
  • The uniforms are going to be a good thing to use, having to sneak into an Alliance facility.
  • Tools in leather, not sure what I want to do with them yet.
  • The cards are just typical for Bruno, for picking up easy money and passing time.
  • Ration bars are how this box got pulled out of the ruined convoy in the first place. Bruno probably won them gambling.
  • The music modules hid the data cube. The fact that they were Chinese music tipped Vinnie that something wasn’t right.
  • The Koran… again, not Bruno’s religion, but locked. It hid something… dang, I can’t remember what I said was inside it…
  • Blankets and cold-weather parka… perhaps the break-in site is in a cold region (mountainous perhaps since that feels more Old West than ice cap)
  • Tong Club card… that is actually a fake. There is no Phoenix Tong. It is a cover for a Browncoat group interested in “rising again” (aka the Phoenix). I’ve already established that the PC, Earl, is well-known in Browncoat circles and a sympathizer.
  • Claim stakes… this relates to Columbiana. If someone could get planetside before the Alliance opened the planet, place claim stakes at the right spots based on the planetary survey, they would be rich when the planet opened up. Of course, the stakes would have to be “cooked” to not record the timestamp of placement earlier than the official planet opening. These stakes are cooked.

    Took a few minutes to consult with the player who will be missing and getting his reactions to what I’m proposing. I’m lucky that my players are mature and I can bring them behind the scenes in a situation like this. He explained that he would do what he had to to save his brother, even knowing the dangers. But he let me know that Vinnie would confide in the captain (Riley) rather than the whole crew if he could manage it. He still wants to hide his past.

    So what was Bruno up to? I’d say that he was hired to steal the datacube but then didn’t deliver it. He tried to sneak out to the Rim on the Settler convoy from Bernadette to Persephone but it got attacked by Reavers on its way to Persephone. Luckily a transport, the Scarlet Kite, came by and rescued the survivors, taking them to Verbena. Before Bruno could get healed up and escape, his boss finds him again.

    Bruno is now being held by a crimelord, let’s go with Adelei Niska until I have a better idea. So that means that Bruno is being held at Niska’s skyplex orbital over Ezra on the Rim. So why don’t they just hand over the cube for Bruno? I’m glad you asked! There must have been more to it than the cube… [thinking]… okay, what if the paranoid Alliance inserted an offset code into the Terraforming Consortium data so that it would be useless without the offset code. So they have to snag the code.

    Now I need to craft Bruno’s communication. It’ll be relayed across the ‘Verse as low-priority traffic to keep the Alliance from sniffing it, so it will be a message not a conversation. I want to establish a few things.

  • Bruno is alive.
  • Bruno is in danger.
  • Bruno needs Vinnie.
  • There is a job to do

    Bruno’s Message: (Bruno Falco appears, face caked with blood and swollen, appears to be missing a couple teeth and one eye is near swollen shut. Very little of his location is visible, just ubiquitous grey metal walls of a space ship or space station wall.) “Piccolo fratello…” begins Bruno softly, but a smile cracking through the pain. “Little something went wrong I guess… no surprise. Need you, Vin. Heard you ended up with my stuff. Need you to bring my crate to me. Well, the crate and one other little thing… (cough, spit blood)… Remember how we did the Dorado on Paquin? Time to do it again. This time its the TC center on Beaumonde. Looking for a fellow named Lloyd Simon, he’s got the key. Once you have the key, bring my crate to dock 64 planetside on Ezra. Do that, brother, and I walk away alive. I’m counting on you.”

    So, how does that look? I’ve got to feed Vinnie background info on what the Dorado job was like so he knows what the crew needs to do now. I’ll leave the definition of the “key” undefined so far. They know they have to get to one guy and that’s good enough for now.

    Well, its getting late. I’ll need to think about what the Terraforming Consortium facilities on Beaumonde look like, how hard it will be to get in and find this Simon character, what the Dorado job was like, etc. And I’m sure I’ll see some wrinkles when I look at this again in a day or two.

    Oh, as a last note, I wrote up the Flying Pig stats last time so I want to give them some ship-oriented challenges. Need to brush up on the rules. Also, I want to review my own advice, presented in my article in the double-sized issue #100 of Knights of the Dinner Table magazine.

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