Monday, June 10, 2024

Star Heist: End of Mission 1

 After six game session the team completed their first mission. It was loosely based on an old and frankly not very good movie called "Deadlier than the Male".

After the game we did a post session summary and the two players left (one had to go to work) seemed happy. Two NPCs Dr. Kirkpatrick (Ugler healer) and Captain Slater (Human analyst) did a lot of work in the background that helped out. However, no one seemed to feel they were overwhelming or too important to the game. They contributed information that the players were able to use but it was mostly behind the scenes and they were not involved in decision making.

I think that they filled roles the players had not really focused on and did not make any big decisions for the group was a big contributor to them seeming useful and fun to interact with but not taking any of the spotlight away from the player characters.

Notable NPCs..

Dr. Kirkpatrick is the ships doctor and was useful in saving one PC's life as well as providing opinions and detail on autopsies and medical reports. Also helped the team diplomat with psych profiling.

Captain Slater is the ships captain and mission lead but his specialty is statistical analysis, this was intended to help me give the players guidance if they got stuck and to spend the required hours of research and slogging through paperwork that many cases would require but would be rather boring to the players. With him going through the paperwork and videotapes they could focus on more active tasks.

Sam and Snick are the ships engineers, mostly intended to keep the ship running and repair things. They had some interaction with the players but were very much background characters.

Bear the security specialist was intended to protect the ship so the players don't have to and to act as reinforcements if they got into a fight. Mostly background, some interaction but he stayed out of things this mission.

JJ the ships pilot (PC) did some Streetwise, that did not directly help but got them a taste of the bad guys when one of them tried to assainate him with a poisoned cigar. Other than that he mostly played chauffer. That is the job of the teams driver/pilot but I want him to be able to get more directly involved, this is the area I feel the most disappointed in so far. If the player remains only the chauffeur I feel he will get bored and so I am hoping he comes up with some directions to grow in that we can work with.

He with the long name that I cannot pronounce and hence cant remember is the groups decker and rigger. Still concerned with the robot allies and being good enough at driving to make the JJ feel redundant but so far it hasn't come up much. He was frustrated at not being able to use his computer hacking abilities but the players opted for a mostly law abiding team and role which hampers the effectiveness of one who is mostly designed to break into other peoples computers. However, the player is smart enough to know this was going to be an issue so its more of a challenge to work around than a serious obstacle, so far anyway. He did get to hack one persons computer which got them the really big clue they needed to decide the case so we both felt good about that.

Duri the diplomat (final PC) did the bulk of the front and center work as this was mostly a working the people kind of mission. I think everything went well there and he was not greedy about the center stage, just that is the way the cards fell. I suspect his character will be the most useful most of the time as talking to people is rarely illegal and tends to come up a lot.

I explained the roles of the ships crew in more detail at the end of the last game. Paying for a ship and its crew is a bit extravagant so they have other duties. Captain Slater, Dr. Kirkpatrick, and the engineers can review various cases by going through paperwork and making recommendations. So they can cover a lot of rather routine cases as background and earn their keep that way. The full team is only needed for major cases and the field team is mostly the PCs with occasional help and support from the NPCs.

General GM Thoughts

NPCs provide a lot of the flavor in a campaign, which is great but they come with a big risk. For example a spacefaring or seagoing campaign often needs NPCs to flesh out the crew. They need to be competent but not overwhelmingly so or at least not prone to taking over the campaign from the players. In this case I assigned them important roles but ones that are more backup or background. So far its working out and I think will continue to do so.

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