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edwardavern

Ideas - Submarine in Space Adventure

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Hi all

I have an upcoming session where I'm going to have 7 (!) players for the first time.  Yes, I know that's a lot.  Obviously want to keep them all happy and interested as much as possible, although am aware that there are going to be limitations on that.

I also have an idea for a big part of the session.  I want to do a submarine-like encounter, with the party carefully navigating a ship through a nebula, or something.  Think Hunt for the Red October, or - actually maybe a better example - that scene from the BSG miniseries when they're heading to the munitions base.  They have to calculate each turn, or risk being sucked into the gases around them (which probably do something bad to the ship).

I'm hoping to make it quite a tense session, with the focus being on the Pilot, the Mechanic and the Jedi.  (The party Face is likely to take a backseat, but that's fine - he had a big role last session).  But I'm looking to see if there are any great ideas/complications anyone can think of to make this more interesting, and bring in as many of the players as possible.  Just wondered if anyone had any thoughts they'd be willing to fling my way.

Thanks in advance.

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There’s always the option of finding a long lost capital ship in there! The payoff could be massive in terms of salvage but it’s risky to get to and... what still survives on board??

Gives options for your other players to get more involved if they board it plus it still keeps the pilot busy making those tricky moves & also the mechanic if those tricky moves don’t go quiet as planned.

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Thanks for starting this thread! I've been thinking about prepping a similar session after watching the first season of The Expanse, so I'm excited to read what others think about this.

To me, what makes a submarine / spaceship situation so interesting and tense is the fact that you're trapped in a small metal box that is entirely surrounded by something that will kill you in a matter of seconds/minutes: water, space void, radiations or whatever you can come up with that adds a bit of spice to this situation :)

If a single thing goes wrong on the ship, everything can and probably will go south very quickly. I see two sides to this:

1- Mechanical failures
The engine fails and you're basically stuck where you are or on your existing trajectory. So what if you're already short on resources and risk running out of energy for the life support systems, or food? Or an obstacle is coming your way and you have to find a way to avoid a collision?
If you have a comms failure, you have no way to get help.
If the hull's integrity gets compromised, parts of the ship become unavailable or much more dangerous to access. And once it starts, it usually doesn't get better.

2- Human failures
just thinking about their situation and how many things can go wrong would make any inexperienced sailor completely freak out.
If some some PCs or NPCs are taking their maiden trip, or have anxieties / environmental or social phobias related to the situation (claustrophobia, agoraphobia, etc), you have some great hooks for more interpersonal drama. It would also give interesting opportunities for the party's Face, unless the Brute knocks everybody unconscious first!

You can even combine the two by having an antagonist inside the ship messing with things and making everybody suspicious / on edge.

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There was a show, many many moons ago, called 'Space: Above and Beyond'.  In one of the episodes, the 58 squadron is in transit from one posting to another on (effectively) a tramp freighter.  The freighter is hauling bulk goods and humans and 'tanks' (artificially gestated humans) in stasis chambers to a newly founded colony world.  In a section of space with high radiation (binary stars, I think), the freighter is jumped by an enemy destroyer and damaged.  Theres a power loss to the ship, but the captain claims that if a certain stasis bay were to be shut down, then the ship would regain enough power to extend and escape.  The crew and the marines are hesitant to go through with the plan, then one of the marines (a tank) checks the ships manifest and realizes that he has a 'sister' in that same stasis bay.  The marine refuses to let anyone disconnect any power to any of the stasis bays, and several of the crew (who are also tanks) mutiny and take over the ship.
You may have to do some searching to find the episode...the name escapes me, right now...but that could be your 'submarines in space' module, with a little morality thrown in to keep the jedi in knots.

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Also, check out the Original Series Star Trek episode called "Balance of Terror". 

It has the Enterprise facing off against a Romulan bird-of-prey with an early cloaking device, and has the distinctive feel of a classic WW2 submarine movie. Perhaps your enemy could have a prototype cloak for a small vessel? Anyway, worth a watch. 

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On 6/25/2018 at 2:10 PM, edwardavern said:

 

I'm hoping to make it quite a tense session, with the focus being on the Pilot, the Mechanic and the Jedi.  (The party Face is likely to take a backseat, but that's fine - he had a big role last session).  But I'm looking to see if there are any great ideas/complications anyone can think of to make this more interesting, and bring in as many of the players as possible.  Just wondered if anyone had any thoughts they'd be willing to fling my way.

Watch the Clone Wars episode "Cat & Mouse"

 

It's pretty much a Submarine film in space 

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On 6/25/2018 at 8:10 AM, edwardavern said:

Hi all

I have an upcoming session where I'm going to have 7 (!) players for the first time.  Yes, I know that's a lot.  Obviously want to keep them all happy and interested as much as possible, although am aware that there are going to be limitations on that.

I also have an idea for a big part of the session.  I want to do a submarine-like encounter, with the party carefully navigating a ship through a nebula, or something.  Think Hunt for the Red October, or - actually maybe a better example - that scene from the BSG miniseries when they're heading to the munitions base.  They have to calculate each turn, or risk being sucked into the gases around them (which probably do something bad to the ship).

I'm hoping to make it quite a tense session, with the focus being on the Pilot, the Mechanic and the Jedi.  (The party Face is likely to take a backseat, but that's fine - he had a big role last session).  But I'm looking to see if there are any great ideas/complications anyone can think of to make this more interesting, and bring in as many of the players as possible.  Just wondered if anyone had any thoughts they'd be willing to fling my way.

Thanks in advance.

Use enperor nortons sensor changes

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It could be fun to have them occupying both the role of hunter and hunted. Ducking into a nebula or other navigational hazard to avoid a larger vessel, while trying to emerge at the right time and place to ambush a supply convoy or some such. You definitely need to keep everyone occupied to keep the tension (and fun!) up where you want it.

May I ask what the party will be flying?

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On 6/25/2018 at 9:18 PM, p0lowww said:

2- Human failures
just thinking about their situation and how many things can go wrong would make any inexperienced sailor completely freak out.
If some some PCs or NPCs are taking their maiden trip, or have anxieties / environmental or social phobias related to the situation (claustrophobia, agoraphobia, etc), you have some great hooks for more interpersonal drama. It would also give interesting opportunities for the party's Face, unless the Brute knocks everybody unconscious first!

 You can even combine the two by having an antagonist inside the ship messing with things and making everybody suspicious / on edge.

 

I LOVE this.  This is gold.  Thanks!

 

13 hours ago, SFC Snuffy said:

It could be fun to have them occupying both the role of hunter and hunted. Ducking into a nebula or other navigational hazard to avoid a larger vessel, while trying to emerge at the right time and place to ambush a supply convoy or some such. You definitely need to keep everyone occupied to keep the tension (and fun!) up where you want it.

May I ask what the party will be flying?

The ship is a light freighter - think Firefly - although they will likely be accompanied by (and, knowing the party, probably trying to steal) a custom Nubian exploration vessel.

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On 6/26/2018 at 5:55 AM, LugWrench said:

There was a show, many many moons ago, called 'Space: Above and Beyond'.  In one of the episodes, the 58 squadron is in transit from one posting to another on (effectively) a tramp freighter.  The freighter is hauling bulk goods and humans and 'tanks' (artificially gestated humans) in stasis chambers to a newly founded colony world.  In a section of space with high radiation (binary stars, I think), the freighter is jumped by an enemy destroyer and damaged.  Theres a power loss to the ship, but the captain claims that if a certain stasis bay were to be shut down, then the ship would regain enough power to extend and escape.  The crew and the marines are hesitant to go through with the plan, then one of the marines (a tank) checks the ships manifest and realizes that he has a 'sister' in that same stasis bay.  The marine refuses to let anyone disconnect any power to any of the stasis bays, and several of the crew (who are also tanks) mutiny and take over the ship.
You may have to do some searching to find the episode...the name escapes me, right now...but that could be your 'submarines in space' module, with a little morality thrown in to keep the jedi in knots.

Season 1 *sniff* Episode 4 "Mutiny"

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Yeah, Space A&B was a really good show, sadly it was short lived, but really good.


OT:  Possible problems they could encounter, the nebula they are in has trace gases that are reactive to hull materials, causing damage and explosions if they don't navigate them smoothly.  This has the dual problem of the damage to the ship (obviously), but also acting like a beacon to whoever is chasing them, giving them an idea of where they are, and thus attack/pursue.    

Honestly, I'd rewatch Wrath of Khan for a good idea on how to play a tense cat and mouse game in a nebula.  That's kind of the poster child for that kind of scene.    

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The Maelstrom as it appears in Solo could be a cool setting that isn't a standard nebula.

Plotting a course would call on Astrogatotion or Computers checks. A researcher could use Knowledge skill checks to pull useful info from the ship's database. Your face could perform Leadership checks to add boost dice to other characters' checks or reduce Strain. With 7 players I would create simultaneous  emergencies in different parts of the ship that require immediate attention, all while needing careful piloting and skillful sensor operation. 

You could introduce creatures that inhabit the nebula and challenge the PCs. I did this in an adventure where my players were investigating the ship graveyard of an ancient battle. A couple of examples:

  • Space barnacles fired their spores (as concussion missiles), with a successful hit embedding pellets into the ship's hull. The eggs soon hatched into larvae (buzzdroids).
  • Phantasmal creatures were able to phase-shift through the ship's hull, feasting on power conduits (system strain damage) and attacking with disruptive blasts (as a disrupter rifle). 

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The brand new Star Wars: Solo, has a encounter that has some interesting ideas.

SPOILERS:

 

Navigating the MAW or other treacherous space phenomenon. Having to preform some final desperate/risky move to escape at the end.  Not to mention a giant creature that attacks the ship. Could be like 20k leagues under the sea, with the crew "trapped inside" with a monster outside.

Edited by ThreeAM

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On 6/30/2018 at 4:51 AM, ThreeAM said:

The brand new Star Wars: Solo, has a encounter that has some interesting ideas.

SPOILERS:

  Reveal hidden contents

Navigating the MAW or other treacherous space phenomenon. Having to preform some final desperate/risky move to escape at the end.  Not to mention a giant creature that attacks the ship. Could be like 20k leagues under the sea, with the crew "trapped inside" with a monster outside.

I have always loved the idea of a submarine type space adventure.  It sounds fun and I hope it goes well!

I agree with @ThreeAM  A Maw Cluster  game sounds ideal! 

You could add Imps or Pirates as adversaries, Black Holes and gravity wells as obstacles, and a Summa-verinoth as a hunting antagonist.  

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On 6/29/2018 at 2:43 PM, O the Owl said:

skillful sensor operation

Actually sensors was something I hadn't given a huge amount of thought to, because we tend to just handwave it in most of the game.  But here I can see it would really be relevant.  I know some people have come up with some pretty in-depth houserules on sensors...I'll dig them out.  Thanks!

 

On 6/29/2018 at 2:43 PM, O the Owl said:

You could introduce creatures that inhabit the nebula and challenge the PCs. I did this in an adventure where my players were investigating the ship graveyard of an ancient battle. A couple of examples:

  •  Space barnacles fired their spores (as concussion missiles), with a successful hit embedding pellets into the ship's hull. The eggs soon hatched into larvae (buzzdroids).
  • Phantasmal creatures were able to phase-shift through the ship's hull, feasting on power conduits (system strain damage) and attacking with disruptive blasts (as a disrupter rifle). 

Love, love, love all these ideas.  Not going to use them all for this session, but definitely going to pocket them for future use.

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