The Campaign Chronicle is a regular blog series in which I publish my notes, thoughts, and plans for my tabletop role-playing games for which I am game mastering. These feature world-building notes, recaps of game sessions, and notes to keep in mind for future sessions. Enjoy!
The following post will look at my notes after Session One and leading into Session Two, and the story and encounter development I did from there.
The Mumon Rift WARS
Pre-Session Two Notes
With a good start under our belts, my prep for session two was entirely narrative and encounter based. My plan, now that session one was over and I had a good idea for how these players worked together, was to fill in the remaining scenario for this particular arc, and then to tackle the following arc later. That meant I had three main questions to address: Who exactly is Trigger? Who took Trigger and why? And what sorts of side encounters should I include?
Who Is Trigger?
The identity of our missing informant was known to me, but only slightly, and there was much to fill in. I knew he was a Cartel informant, and I knew he was keeping tabs on the Quay. That alone is a dangerous endeavor, but what else can we learn about Trigger before the players encounter him?
Well, he'd be edgy, for one. He'd probably take advantage of alliances wherever he could, for two. His visits to the Rats' Nest backroom with Dooley took on a new shape, going from disciplinarian to cooperative. This also puts Dooley in the position to be interested in Trigger's safe return, meaning Dooley will see the players as potential allies. Open that flow of information a bit and give the players a better idea of what is going on (without revealing too much).
Trigger has an apartment, and when the players visit it I want it to be a dump. Not just from Trigger's lifestyle, but from those who were after him. Being in the Cartel, they'd be after him for what he knew, not who he was.
Realistically, Trigger is just an average guy who knows how to grease some palms and how to listen in. It all went south when some of the folks he was gleaning information from got leaked, and then someone shows up to start tying up loose ends, one of which being Trigger himself.
Who Took Trigger?
I had to lead this back to the Quay, but I didn't want the Quay to be the kidnappers. If he's making deals with them, why would they capture him? Plus, if the Quay are still expecting a deal to go down, they could be potential allies or threats to the PCs, depending on how the PCs are conducting themselves at Trigger's apartment.
For this I looked to WARS established universe. Shortly after the opening of the Rift, who would the Quay want information on? The Shi seemed an obvious choice, and almost too obvious. I don't think the Quay would want to learn about the Shi as much as they'd want to outright obliterate them. But the Quay and the Gongen are two factions that have seen some hit and miss conflicts since the Quay came through the Rift. And then reading some more of the old WARS short stories reminded me of when the Quay attacked the Deigan (a Gongen sub-faction) mines on Ganymede. This seemed to be writing itself at this point.
So Trigger is getting info from the Quay in exchange for info on the Deigan mines. He's getting this info from Gongen - specifically Deigan Gongen - who have been traveling through Ceres. A notable Gongen officer learns of these leaks, and dispatches a Kizen captain and her contingent of soldiers to plug the leaks and keep the Deigan mines safe. Trigger is captured, and then... what? What would this squad do from there? I didn't want Trigger to be dead, so that means they needed to keep him alive to do what?
The Gongen, being the collected descendants of many eastern Asian countries, are obsessed with honor. Leaks in classified Deigan information would be considered highly dishonorable. Maybe the Deigan captain is keeping Trigger alive to learn who exactly leaked the information? That would result in a number of murdered Gongen in and around Ceres, which I'll have to start dropping into the players' laps. Also, Trigger would have the intel he's gathered from the leaks hidden, or else they would've killed him as soon as they learned who leaked info. So instead they're holding him somewhere in the old maintenance tunnels on Ceres, until they've gotten all leaks disposed of and all intel gathered. This puts the players on a time crunch as well.
With the bulk of this scenario's story out of the way, now it came time to design some fun side encounters for the players to experience as they're searching for Trigger. Ceres is a large place, a dwarf planet among the asteroid belt, so there's a lot of options. The ones I decided to include were established in a way that they should be engaging to everyone in the party.
- Dealing with the Regulators: Maybe Dooley has taken issue with how the Regs have conducted themselves, and since the players are already experienced with the Regs, he sends the PCs to remind the Regulators, and their local leader Gunsmoke, to remind them of the terms of their contract.
- Damaged Medical Bot: A bot that witnessed the murder of a Gongen leak, and thus was heavily damaged by the Deigan who took Trigger. The PCs encounter the bot as it is unsuccessfully trying to revive the corpse of the fallen Gongen informant. The bot is also in possession of some useful medical supplies.
- Accord Pirates: The Accord are always a good group to use for random shootouts. Maybe, after killing the last informant, a pair of Gongen soldiers are returning to their Kizen captain, and get jumped by Accord bandits. The PCs could hear a shout or a gunshot from further away, and arrive on the scene to see the Accord brigands standing over the bodies of two Gongen soldiers.
- Damaged Little Nelly: A vehicle in disrepair could be a good way for a character or two to test their repair and driving abilities, and could be used to swing a bad confrontation in their favor (NOTE: This was scrapped as it didn't directly add to the narrative, and it would also be strange that such a vehicle would exist down in the maintenance tunnels of Ceres. Instead I replaced it with giving the PCs a broken and battered piece of valuable armor.