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Mistervimes

I need a better plot device/McGuffin at the start of new campaign

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Background

I'm starting a new campaign. This is my first time with the FFG system. I've been gaming for 40 years and been playing with (mostly) the same group of seven players for the last ten. They're a solid group. They don't reject the premise and they take responsibility for keeping a team together -- but they deserve a better motivation than I'm coming up with. 

Campaign

The campaign is set 15 years after the battle of Yavin. It's a nice quiet spot to play around with on the fringe. I plan to make it fairly sandboxy.

  • There will be three interwoven metaplots that involve three different Imperial Remnant factions. These metaplots will have time related triggers for events. These are loose bullet points that will change depending on what the players do (or don't do). Metaplots have major consequences.
  • There will be plot hooks for them to pick up or ignore. Plot hook interaction or rejection have consequences. 
  • There will be story prompts for them to engage or ignore. Story prompts have little or no consequences, but may result in rewards.

Team Structure

My style for Star Wars  is:

  • Session Zero cooperative character building
  • Sub-teams within the larger group (like Ben and Luke, Han and Chewie, or C3P0 and R2D2). The players get together, decide who is teaming with whom, and build that backstory. Sub-teams will share obligation. That way I only have three obligations running instead of seven. 
  • Session 0.5a-0.5c are three sessions about two hours long where I run the individual teams right up to the point where everyone meets. In session one I start in medias res at the point where everyone left off in their 0.5 session. That way everyone has context of what happened to them, but not the others. It always scores well with the players. 

My problem

If you stuck with me so far, here's my problem. When I started using this method with WEG in the 1990s, I went with the laziest McGuffin. One player unknowingly had data that the Empire wanted (just like poor old R2). Over the years I've used various methods as inciting incidents and motivations for keeping the party together. The players will keep the party together, I just think they deserve better than what I'm coming up with.

What I've come up with: All three groups are on the Ring of Kafrene. They'll decide why and where they are headed. One player mentioned that they wanted to be a ship captain. The Ring is attacked by one of the Imperial Remnant factions. The populace of the Ring panics and tries to escape. The heroes all end up on the captain's ship and they escape. 

What is the reason the Imps are after them and why should they stick together?

Creative answers worthy of great players are welcomed and encouraged. 

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I recently read the first book for Alphabet Squadron (good read and I recommend it) and the inciting incidents were that he Empire was engaging in scorched earth tactics to just ruin worlds out of spite.

For your campaign, just have a rogue ISD show up and start bombarding the city from orbit and attacking fleeing starships with waves of TIE Fighters.  (There's one option).

As for shifting to an Alliance themed campaign, have the players seek out the "Reward" for rogue Imperial elements (like the ISD that just leveled that city).

Honestly, this sounds like just a reskinning of your idea actually . . .

(I'll see if I can come up with something better).

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14 minutes ago, P-47 Thunderbolt said:

One important question is Canon, Legends, or headcanon? That will affect what sort of stories can be told in the time period.

Canon plus a few personal favorites. I'm sticking with the new Canon, but I'm adding back in Dathomiri Witches (instead of just Night Sisters) as an option and one of the villains is the last surviving Royal Guard. That's why I'm playing around in a relative dead zone (15ABY). They can do nearly anything they want without bumping into TV or movies.  

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28 minutes ago, Mark Caliber said:

I recently read the first book for Alphabet Squadron (good read and I recommend it) and the inciting incidents were that he Empire was engaging in scorched earth tactics to just ruin worlds out of spite.

For your campaign, just have a rogue ISD show up and start bombarding the city from orbit and attacking fleeing starships with waves of TIE Fighters.  (There's one option).

As for shifting to an Alliance themed campaign, have the players seek out the "Reward" for rogue Imperial elements (like the ISD that just leveled that city).

Honestly, this sounds like just a reskinning of your idea actually . . .

(I'll see if I can come up with something better).

This is Edge of Empire with the Remnant(s) as the Big Bad(s). The inciting incident will be a infiltration of the Ring of Kafrene by disguised imperials and then a wave of TIE fighters roll in. Panic ensues, the party escapes. What I really need is a reason they have gained the attention of the first Remnant faction and then the other two factions. 

Though the idea that their Obligation contacts send them after the Imps is a good one. 

 

Edited by Mistervimes

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I had great fun starting off the players already captured.  They are "Edge" characters, so they probably have a reason to have been captured, in my case some of the PCs were cops framed for fraud/trafficking/murder, since the case they were on was getting a little too close to exposing big corruption.  So they were in a prison ship, along with a bunch of other prisoners (possible PCs) when an asteroid hit the ship (could have been pirates, or the rescue party of some crime lord) and chaos ensues.  Some of the guards try to make a stand, some are overrun and now some prisoners have weapons too.  Stand off at the escape pods, but the ship's pilots are dead, and the only ones who can pilot are the PCs and/or a prisoner NPC.  So an uncomfortable deal is reached to "share" the escape pods, after which they all crash land on some forsaken planet...and now guards and criminals have to work together to get off this rock... 

In this case the McGuffin is the corruption.  If the PCs survive the intro and make it back to "civilization", they have to go underground to prove their innocence, kind of like Harrison Ford in the Fugitive (shamelessly stolen for Ahsoka's last arc).  Obviously you'll have different plot points, but it *does* put all the PCs together for a reason  :) 

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Ah.  What "McGuffin" do the PC's have that the Imps need?

Coaxium?  Those ISD's drink Coax' like a Bantha drinks bad water.

Food?  When things go pear shaped in society food becomes a primary commodity.  And for a group of warlords wandering the Galaxy, Food and E-Rats become more important.

And then there are the more prosaic items, like spare parts (for obsolete Imperial equipment).

Another possibility (and it's more common IRL for Big Bads) is to get into the spice trade so that they can finance their ongoing operations.

The other thing that I can think of are medical supplies.   Bacta is still kinda rare and it's entirely likely that the Alliance would put a Bacta squeeze on the Imperials just like the Empire tried to do on the Rebels.   Another option would be Saleucami Brandy.  It's a highly addictive substance (like opium) but it's also a very effective medical supply (like opium).

Try some of these on for size and see what you think.

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Or maybe one of the PCs is unknowingly a bastard of the Emperor and that these folks are aiming to claim some legitimacy among the other ruminants by controlling a heir of the Emperor. Compliance by the PC isn’t necessarily, their captivity will do.

 

this doesn’t require the PC in question to be any different, but it gives reason why they might be particularly hunted once the dust has settled.

Edited by LordBritish

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11 hours ago, Mistervimes said:

What I've come up with: All three groups are on the Ring of Kafrene. They'll decide why and where they are headed. One player mentioned that they wanted to be a ship captain. The Ring is attacked by one of the Imperial Remnant factions. The populace of the Ring panics and tries to escape. The heroes all end up on the captain's ship and they escape. 

What is the reason the Imps are after them and why should they stick together?

So, I think HERE is where you can weave it into the backgrounds.  What are the PC's there for?  Could they be part of an aspiring news agency?  Freedom on the HoloNet?  They (or the company they work for) have been exposing Imperial Remnant activity since the breakup 15 years ago. As employees listed on the payroll, they are wanted people. 

Alternatively, any business they are part of could be a reason they are wanted.  Maybe their 'shipping' business is considered piracy under Imperial Law?  Maybe they have a business that deal with the New Jedi Order?  Maybe they polish holocrons, eh? :D Something like that, their line of work makes them wanted.  

Also consider.... How did they get their ship?  Do they just grab a ship when fleeing the chaos?  Ship history trope. 

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17 hours ago, Mistervimes said:

Session 0.5a-0.5c are three sessions about two hours long where I run the individual teams right up to the point where everyone meets. In session one I start in medias res at the point where everyone left off in their 0.5 session. That way everyone has context of what happened to them, but not the others. It always scores well with the players. 

Firstly I absolutely love this idea,  and will totally steal it next campaign I run.

How about something archeological, Indiana Jones styles? 

The Last Royal Gaurd could be trying to find artifacts that he believes cam help resurect his master, and one if the PCs may have inadvertently stumbled across something he wants.

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5 hours ago, Stethemessiah said:

Firstly I absolutely love this idea,  and will totally steal it next campaign I run.

Thank you. It's been so popular that I've started doing it with many of my games. 

Quote

How about something archeological, Indiana Jones styles? 

The Last Royal Gaurd could be trying to find artifacts that he believes cam help resurect his master, and one if the PCs may have inadvertently stumbled across something he wants.

That's a really good hook. I think (as DurosSpacer suggests) that I need to wait till I get the backgrounds. I'd love someone to do an archaeologist and, while the game is set in a period where their is one known Jedi, that Holocrons and Force related artifacts are always fun. I'm a huge fan of Keiron Gillen's "Doctor Aphra" comic series and there's a lot of good stuff in that arena of play. 

Thanks!

 

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10 hours ago, DurosSpacer said:

So, I think HERE is where you can weave it into the backgrounds.  What are the PC's there for? 

Yeah. I'm putting the cart before the horse. I have the basic events and I have session zero and the 0.5 sessions to decide what the MacGuffin is and what it is not. That's a great callout. 

Quote

Something like that, their line of work makes them wanted.  

Also consider.... How did they get their ship?  Do they just grab a ship when fleeing the chaos?  Ship history trope. 

Those are great points. I could definitely use the ship as the MacGuffin. How I use it is dependent on the Pilot/Owner's backgroundy stuff. 

Thank you. That was super helpful. 

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This feels like a conversation to have with your players. It shouldn't fall just upon your shoulders as the GM to provide the motivation to which player characters' respond. The point of a MacGuffin is that what it is and what it does is irrelevant, it's just a story device that spurs action. 

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I might create a family tie between one of the group's and the last crimson guard. Then create a bureaucratic tie between the remnant group and another group, like the ship Captain. Like a shipment of food stuffs that they are waiting to get paid for, but the remnant isn't paying for something if it doesn't have to. Which can lead to some reason for a team up. 

I would also ask the players for the hooks they want their characters to have.

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8 minutes ago, Mattheau said:

I might create a family tie between one of the group's and the last crimson guard. Then create a bureaucratic tie between the remnant group and another group, like the ship Captain.

This is some good content and very much in the vein of  Star Wars. Definitely going to put this on my list. 
As usual, my players just handed me hooks on a silver platter. The Player with the ship asked if it was ok if he "just found the ship." That's just handing me the answer I was looking for. Good players are often hard to find, but I've got some good ones.   

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Years ago, there was an episode of 'Firefly' wherein an old military friend of Mal and Zoe 'died' and had himself mailed to Mal, so his body could be returned to his family for burial.  Along the way, some crooked law enforcement troopers tried to stop Mal and confiscate the corpse.  Come to find out that Mal's friend wasn't dead, just sedated all to **** and gone.  Mal's friend woke up and explained that he was smuggling black-market cloned organs within himself, and that the lawmen following him were his...business associates.  Associates who wanted him dead for double-crossing them.
Perhaps your group finds their ship when the Imperial Remnants show up and start forcibly searching Kafrene.  Someone shoots, the Imperials shoot back, and everyone starts running for the nearest ship.  Your players commandeer a ship, make their escape, then find out that theres a body on board.  The Imperals sort out who is who and who grabbed what ship, and start hunting for the players.  Meanwhile, the dead man wakes up and starts to tell his tale.  Turns out, he knows a code that can unlock a program that contains a star chart that leads to....  Well, you're the GM.  So now your players have a person who can crack a code to a program that could alter the galaxy.  But wheres the program?  Do the Imperals have it?  Do one of the cartels have it?  Is the program fragmented so multiple people have a part of it? 

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