In this (the first and maybe only) episode of 'My players break everything' I relate the terrors from beyond, well... the freeway, they all live across the freeway, so that counts.
Starting off I tell them about the maw, and that they are going after the bounty. Lisa interupts. 'Wait a second, so in the bad part of space (the maw) there's a worse part of space (the battleground) and we find the bounty to be in the worstest part of the worst part of the bad part of space. This doesnt seem fishy to anyone?' there are nods of agreement. I try to explain that the 'badness' comes from the warp, and outside of the warp space is relativly calm... except in the debrie field of coarse.
They get their tech priests to make some inane magnetic repulsor by grinding magnets and sending them out from the ship to push other things away... I dont even know. It made quite a bit of sense in theory, but I'm just not up on the practicality of it. So they took the ship into the feild (took some damage, but I judged less than if they had tried without -5 profit). Then they used their ship to grapple onto the bounty and pull it out (+3 profit). the contract said the captain had to be the first to set foot on the vesel. "I've got a mechanical leg! lets toss that at the ship!" one airlock space toss and foot retrieval later I have the crew argue the semantics of it 'they mean board the ship'. So they dock the ships together, Captain Ken walks over sniffs the air, and turns back. 'Send in the red shirts'. Heck, they even know what to call the expendable cannon fodder. I cant see any reason why they shouldn't so in they go. Salvage stops a few hours later with missing crew. So the PCs decide to turn off the life support (and argued that there should be an off switch for the life support near all the major exits... like turning off lights when you leave. I tried to explain that these things arent' EVER meant to have people leave them. People live on them. inbreeding jokes comense). So they get their red shirts to go to the bridge and rip into the life support system (in a more computer savy and less ripping way). 3 days later the ship is now dead dead dead, they turn the life support back on and wait another 2 days for it to heat back up.
Question for you all: How easy hard should it be to turn the life support system off and on? I figured it would cause tremendous damage to the system because it was never meant to be turned off, but a few hours of tinkering with it and their red shirt tech priests could break it well enough. then another few hours (days later) to jerry rig some sort of program to make the systems work again. Was this so wrong?
Well the ship should now be dead. But they arent about to board themselves 'Send in more red shirts'. I'm assuming they were armed or whatever, but they were really just testing the waters for the PCs. They get lost too, so the PCs send a third batch to the bridge to check the video logs, now the ship wouldnt be wired up for watching people any more than most cities are. But there should be enough for them to find a few vid feeds of what happened. I described the scene of the dead getting up and killing everyone.
I did blunder and describe it as 'human like things' at first because I was franticly searching the pages for ... well, lots of stuff, they kept coming up with questions I was constantly looking for awnsers like 'how big is the bridge? How much energy does the engine put out? Can we electrocute the coridors? Did their food spoil?'. I blame myself for this in part because I usually read an adventure twice, then write down the main points of interest, and forseable snags (such as 'lets not board the ship') and how to deal with them or at least split the event tree in a way I can weave some things back in later. I didnt do that this time. I was going straight out of the book after one read through. My bad.
So after finding that undead roamed the ship (or mostly lie around till people pass by) the 3rd group of red shirts get eaten in plain veiw of the PCs (assuming they have some visual sensors trained on the bridge). They decide to find someone, accuse him of treason, and perform experiments on him such as 'lets see if its airborn. send bob on, yank him back, then we'll kill him. if he comes back to life then we're screwed.'
It's not airborn, so they want to send snake bots through the ship to explore. I try to explain a little bit about 'bots' and forbiden technology. They settle for servo skulls, which agitate the bodies, but dont really awaken them like people do. They send in 'remote controll dragonflies' I'm not sure what kind of stuff they would or wouldn't necisarily have, but there's a good chance they could have something similar, so I let them do that (since the purely mechanical dragonflies arent pestering the undead.) They find the navigator, or an NPC does because their tech guy was rolling so badly that by the end of the game they just gave him an echa sketch so he could pretend to help while NPCs did the scanning. (since I figured there would be dozens of them, and my players are in no hurry to do things themselves). Anyways. Navigator... with the halo worm in his third eye. They fit a plasma gun (the ship's prety big, they might have a few) onto a remote controlled car (or something similar, seems another thing you would find in a city sized spacebound comunity), and blasted the thing off his noggin. then they have their red shirts burn the bodies just to be safe.
They now want to not just salvage the ship, but fix it up and take it with them. I rolled some dice. got their tech priests to spend several months finding spare parts from the battlegrounds, another few months fixing the ship to warp capable. (I was never sure how badly damaged the thing was, surely it must have been in bad shape, but if there is still air in most of the ship surely there's enough of it left to make spaceworthy again)
6 months later they need another navagator (one to fly their newly ducktaped bounty), they are very fearful and very reluctant to leave it their. And even more reluctant to leave it in the hands of the expendable 'dead when you look away for a second' red shirts. So they vote Lisa off the ship 'You've doomed me!'. and leave to get a new navagator. Much to their surprise everything goes as planned and 2 weeks later they return with a new navagator and fly off into the sunset.
the report card... I wasn't sure how to represent that since '10 profit' is the base bonus for mission acomplished assuming a successful salvage. but getting the rescued crew to help is +2, (they killed the crew before they knew about them) and I was assuming that recruiting them to help also was recruiting them into your own crew as slave labor or the like. Now the imperium doesnt value human lives like we do. Selling people (or even just their contracts) is semi commonplace, there are worlds which list 'people' as their primary export. They arent THAT valuble. not 1/5 of a starship valuble. especially not in the low quantities (I'm thinking maybe 10% survivors at most). So how much is the 10 bonus for the salvage supposed to actually be worth? How much would a new ship of the Bounty's light cruiser class be worth?
In the end I gave them -25 (for taking their ship into the feild, no salvage since they kept the ship, repair on the other ship for being in the feild, replacing crew members lost, 6 months of supplies used up, hiring a new navigator... there were a few bonuses... scanning the feild for other salvage, moving the ship out of the feild for easier salvage, and I think I may have forgoten to hire a new crew for their new ship... but as I said before I'm not sure how much a new crew would cost) but they walked away with a ship and grinning like the cat that ate the cannary.
So. Now that you've read my account. I'm curious how everyone else would have changed things, railroaded their players, judged the value of their actions, the cost of a ship even.
I'm not really angry at them for 'breaking' the game. it was still a lot of fun. And though I am curious about how feasable some of the stuff they did would actually be and how other GMs would deal with that sort of stuff... I'm mostly just confused by the value of 'profit' and how to judge their actions.