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Elgis

prisoners and interactivity

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Hey folks!

I've been running and eote campaign on and off for about a year but have had no other gming experience so i'm turning to you guys for help with a problem.

So the pcs had a bank heist on malastare go very wrong, with one of the party getting captured by what was an imperial sting operation. Whilst i have no doubt that her getting free will be a priority, i am struggling on thinking how to keep the captured pc involved and doing stuff. As a chiss imperial deserter connected with a frigate that recently mutineed, i am sure that there would be a harsh interrogation somewhere, but 'roll discipline to resist interrogation' doesn't sound like it would be very fun or interactive.

what could she be doing/how do i facilitate her agency to do stuff in this case? More importantly, what pitfalls should i avoid?

the gang did purchase some mining equipment for the heist no questions asked from a dodgy business that did hire prison labour from the imperials; i was thinking of sending the pc there for some irony, as seeing this pissed her off when negotiating the drill purchase.

any thoughts and advice would be appreciated!

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I run games in a very sandbox style with the players driving the story whenever possible. But players can get into situations that I call a Logical Constraint. A character being put in prison is ne such situation, but it can be any situation where by the player's choice they end up reducing their possibilities for action. 

I would not do interrogation scenes unless the player can learn something important from them. It's much better in my opinion to just tell them "they interrogate you in x way and it's awful." 

I think I would also ask the players for their plan so that you can not have a bunch of game time wasted while the scenes everyone already assume are going to happen are just confirmed. I think if an escape is going to be attempted then I say get to the setup for that and get going. 

I think that it the mining equipment part is awesome. I love it when nagging/complaining players get their come-uppance from situations like that :)

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well when rolling for the negotiations for the mining equipment they rolled poorly enough the other side shopped them so theres that...

i have thought of a couple of ways the pc might glean useful information from her captors interrogating her; the bad guys aren't united and their treatment of her (and where she ends up) might highlight this.

i am mostly concerned as to what she could be doing rather than just waiting to be rescued. I'd like the player to be feeling as if she's doing stuff and keeping her involved!

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How often have you handled split groups in the game?  You can do the same here so that it's not a simple "roll to resist the torture" 

Come up with a list that the Empire would want to learn from the captured character, whether they actually know anything about it or not.  Maybe there is another Rebel cell active in the area and they think she's connected with them.  Give her clues and the chance to escape on her own.  If not escape, give her the chance to gather information that could be beneficial to the team once they do rescue her.

 

I see the rest of the team outside the base looking for a way in when she walks up behind them and says, "what are you guys doing?" 

"We're about to break in there and rescue you." 
"Cool, need any help?"

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2 hours ago, Elgis said:

well when rolling for the negotiations for the mining equipment they rolled poorly enough the other side shopped them so theres that...

i have thought of a couple of ways the pc might glean useful information from her captors interrogating her; the bad guys aren't united and their treatment of her (and where she ends up) might highlight this.

i am mostly concerned as to what she could be doing rather than just waiting to be rescued. I'd like the player to be feeling as if she's doing stuff and keeping her involved!

Is there some reason to not just run the escape? Does the game time played have to reflect time in incarceration or can you just orient the narrative toward this escape situation? In other words, what is going on that is important enough to delay handling the escape? What are the free characters doing that is more important than rescuing her? 

 

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56 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Is there some reason to not just run the escape? Does the game time played have to reflect time in incarceration or can you just orient the narrative toward this escape situation? In other words, what is going on that is important enough to delay handling the escape? What are the free characters doing that is more important than rescuing her? 

 

I think he’s looking for the captive player to have something to do instead of just sitting at the table waiting for the other player’s PCs to get to their cell.

A few ideas to beat such boredom:

- Let the other PCs get in quickly and easily, only to find that it was a trap and they have a very hard time getting out. This way, the reunion happens quickly and the captive gets involved, but it doesn’t break suspension of disbelief.

- Make up other captives the PC can talk to. Maybe she can gain knowledge from them or recruit their help on a breakout.

- Let the captive try to escape on their own. Ask the player, “would your character just wait around to be rescued or tortured? what would they be trying right now?” And have at least something prepared so there is some way to make an attempt. If they fail, they fail and have to wait, but at least they got a chance.

- Have another group (e.g. Rebels, criminals) assault the base at the same time, either to destroy it or to free another prisoner. Lots of fun complications and new NPC relationships to be made there.

- The Imperials are going to transport the captive, so the rescue becomes a chase, too. Maybe it’s just a chase theough the prison, or maybe the PCs have to free them from a transport instead.

Just some ideas off the cuff. Let us know how it goes!

 

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1 hour ago, cvtheoman said:

I think he’s looking for the captive player to have something to do instead of just sitting at the table waiting for the other player’s PCs to get to their cell.

A few ideas to beat such boredom:

- Let the other PCs get in quickly and easily, only to find that it was a trap and they have a very hard time getting out. This way, the reunion happens quickly and the captive gets involved, but it doesn’t break suspension of disbelief.

- Make up other captives the PC can talk to. Maybe she can gain knowledge from them or recruit their help on a breakout.

- Let the captive try to escape on their own. Ask the player, “would your character just wait around to be rescued or tortured? what would they be trying right now?” And have at least something prepared so there is some way to make an attempt. If they fail, they fail and have to wait, but at least they got a chance.

- Have another group (e.g. Rebels, criminals) assault the base at the same time, either to destroy it or to free another prisoner. Lots of fun complications and new NPC relationships to be made there.

- The Imperials are going to transport the captive, so the rescue becomes a chase, too. Maybe it’s just a chase theough the prison, or maybe the PCs have to free them from a transport instead.

Just some ideas off the cuff. Let us know how it goes!

 

Yeah I just wonder why the scenes of the character in jail are getting valued over moving the game along. Maybe the OP but a bunch of work into the prison or something I don't know. 

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Posted (edited)

Do the interesting thing. If she knows nothing of value, have the empire do surgery and put a tracking becon right into her heart that would require a skilled surgeron to remove or a full cybernetic replacement. Now the PC's have an unconscious mole in their amidst who isn't necessarily aware of that status. Maybe it was easy to break the PC out but maybe that is precisely what they intended. Of course that creates plot points of it's own that must be resolved.

Or have the players play as an NPC as sometimes a unification isn't an immediately viable option so having each player having a access to one or two interesting "alt" or NPC characters might work in the case where the separation isn't immediately apparent. My character for example got stranded on an imperial fortress world and wasn't rescued for two weeks, for the party had to go through a process to gather data to access that data. I played as a clone inquisitor of one of the PC's, a two year old martial artist who had been part of a fire team captured during the previous session that the party wanted to redeem. In a sense I was able to do part of the GM's job in fleshing out the NPC as I played this lethal, yet socially jurvinal young adult who had to make sense of the galaxy around her beyond her master's initial evil design which made for an immensely satisfying, short story arc of this character learning what the PC's took for granted.

It also builds a great sense of tension as to whether the character is alright and would hopefully encourage them to full heartedly dig up information on them, after all your fellow players are just in the dark as you are. For example, I didn't know anything about how my PC was faring until another died on the adventure; the Gand's Findsman who would never go on to liberate his home world, which did a whole cut scene where the force spirit of the latter rescued the PC from a perilous situation only to fade away once his last request had been granted, even in "death" he thought of his lost comrade over his own tragic fate. It was a truly magical moment. But this option needs a certain player buy in to work properly; so they need to know that your aren't just messing with them but you need time to reach that delicious plot hook, so get them to help you out by bringing an NPC to life for a while.

Edited by LordBritish

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I had one time where I just gave the PC that was captured a NPC sheet to help the other players out.  Just took the player aside, told them "Secret info" and allowed them to lead the rest of the group for a bit.

Worked rather seamlessly 

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well thanks for the replies; you've all given me lot to think about.

My big concern has been to make sure everyone is involved to some extent and how to achieve that, rather then to show off a prison or interrogation scene. Capturing the pc was not part of my plan at all in the first place!

I haven't experience in doing a true split party; whilst the group has split up at times to achieve multiple time sensitive/difficult tasks, it was more in the vein of "you have a day in town to prepare for the job and a lot to do, so who goes off to do what?"

i am probably going to go down the route of providing plenty of opportunities for the prisoner to make new contacts and for intelligence gathering; of course if she wants to escape on her own that's all well and good too!

whilst giving the player a guest character might work, A) they don't know anyone altruistic enough on this planet that would chip in and help them, and B) i reckon people want to be awesome with their own characters rather than one they haven't invested in. I will talk with them first though; after all i may be wrong and this would be their preferred option.

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If you are letting the players do the rescue, give then a few minutes to good a general plan then screen wipe to the rescue.

If you are letting something else break them out, do that in parallel with the actions of the other players.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/6/2019 at 2:02 PM, Darzil said:

If you are letting the players do the rescue, give then a few minutes to good a general plan then screen wipe to the rescue.

This is the general idea ^. Remember this is a cinematic game so you don't need to play every moment you can skip ahead or montage for effect. So have the rescuers tell you their idea then maybe have them make some rolls to represent critical parts of the plan, not to fail but to help you narrate it and maybe throw some extra challenges or opportunities in (Triumphs & Despairs). Then do just that, narrate the break in for them Mission Imposable style all the way up to the actual moment they get to the captured PC. Then have the intercom crackle and they hear: "Welcome to my den Rebel scum, now I have you all!" and the adventure is getting out...

Edited by FuriousGreg

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Posted (edited)

So i have some input ideas.

 

First, this chiss PC was part of a mutinous action. The ISB would come along to torture and extract information about who else was involved and where each of them might be. Then the Imperial Navy would come along, wash, rinse, repeat the torture and want to know where their stolen ship is and who has it. Between the two Imperial organizations the PC would be most likely shipped to an Imperial operated prison facility where the dangerous and extremely hard labor would quickly kill the PC at best, the PC would be court-martialed, normally the punishment for mutiny is death, probably out the air lock. The PC should be trying to show their worth to one of those organizations, just to get the dangerous and extremely hard labor. The next paragraph is my suggestion of what would happen beyond this first paragraph.

Now sitting down with this player to come up with what is it the PC knows. This should be done in between sessions. Next, the character is transported to Imperial Prison facility X. However, on the way, the prisoner transport is attacked by pirates, hired by some other criminal organization to rescue another prisoner. Think Con-air and Die Hard 2. I like the tracker, but players always look for that flavor. While being attacked another prisoner teams up with the PC for mutual protection, having heard the PC was part of the mutinous fight. The pirates get their own, freeing the other prisoners in the process, but aren't taking anyone else, to much drama they say. The new ally of the PCs mentions that they used to work at another imperial prison facility that built these transport ships and he knows that the number of escape pods is very limited, two up front for the pilots and forward crew and one in the rear for the engineers. By their best guess the entire engine section was blasted apart, but the engineers crew quarters are actually the escape pod, and it's on the bottom of the ship, streamlined into the hull. If they can access the ventilation system somehow, he can guide both of them to it. 

So this NPC can be a plant or just another prisoner seeking to escape. As a plant, there is no tracker to find. The NPC could be a helpful repair and maintain ship type. 

This could all be done cinematic style, allowing the player to get back to them, the Imperial organizations may even think the PC is dead, and you might imply this to them... with the plant the PC and party are at risk when you wish to exploit it. The interrogation and extraction of information can be done dramatic interrogation droid style, with the organizations bantering back and forth with the PC, and they are warned that it will only get worse for the PC. They keep holding out on both organizations until a high level Imperial dungeoneer arrives with his interrogation droid, the representatives from the other organizations converse quietly, just out of earshot. Then the dungeoneer enters and the door closes. They state "Shall we begin prisoner code #? That's rhetorical, and not a question for you to answer. But, when we are through," glacing at the droid "you'll not be so stubborn." 

Explain to the player they wake in pain, seemingly paralyzed, they have no idea how much time has passed. A droid orderly checks their vitals and contacts it's supervisor. The droid states "If prisoner code # is no longer needed, they are ready for transport or termination."

"Ready prisoner code # for transport."

"Affirmative. I guess its time for you to go" the PC feels their eyelids closing, and as the darkness comes, the cold haunting nightmares flashback into view"

Then they wake on the transport.

Edited by doktor grym

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Also consider if she’s in a prison there’s plenty of scenes that can occur. Other prisoners can make interesting or even dangerous NPC’s. Are there gangs in the prison? They might want to fight or intimidate the fresh meat. Maybe a bounty they captured alive and turned in before. Maybe someone from one of the players past is imprisoned and can reveal details about then that Pc didn’t know. Perhaps the guards are corrupt and can transfer info to those outside for a cost, after all what better way for the party to get details like how many guards are on at what time, what cell block is the prisoner in, what are the internal defenses and response units during a break out, a lot of that is info easier gathered from inside than out, etc. 

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