In my tabletop game DROP (pay-what-you-want on DriveThruRPG), you play the crew of a starship on a doomed mission. The players all write down their characters’ actions on a shared piece paper.
What does that look like? I, historicula, and historicula’s brother wrote the following story:
Phase 1: Preparation
The basic scenario will be a medical ship sent to contain an outbreak. We decided to set this in the Firefly universe. We would be on an Alliance military ship (an interplanetary heavy frigate) with medical personnel.
The target would be a colony of ship-builders, made up of asteroids. Unknown to us, they have been subjected to an “improved” form of Pax that is creating a different kind of Reaver, one prone to bouts of construction and destruction.
UNKNOWN: The ship’s exact nature (specifically, a conflict between the medical officers intended mission and the actual one).
- Walker, grizzled former combat medic, good in high-stress situations. Has a drinking problem.
- Conway, medical officer, general surgeon – competent stubborn, something of a jerk – held a gun once, but mostly here to serve out time paid for medical school.
- Ace Hunter, hotshot pilot, brash, who needs to be put down a peg, but refuses.
Phase 2: The Arrival
We arrive at the colony, and Ace notices no landing lights. The docking station promptly collapses.
A frantic message is received: “Day 3, infection spreading faster than expected. Trying to contain workers. Alliance not responding. Won’t last 24 hours. If you get this message–(static)”
Ace navigates the ship to the cargo bay and docks with it.
Walker preps a medical away team that includes Ace, but one crew member is out sick, and the other has a malfunctioning rifle.
Dr. Conway preps the medical facility, and has a briefing with the infectious disease specialist in the medical bay about how this outbreak may be related to Pax.
UNKNOWNS: Environmental hazards and sabotage
Phase 3: The Drop
Walker and Hunter head into the ship. A sudden EMP pulse blacks out the ship and parts of the colony, including the comm array. The away team’s equipment is EMP-protected.
While exploring the hallway, Ace turns a corner, screams, and fires randomly…at a dead body that catapulted out of the ceiling. A bullet ricochets back and hits him.
Walker patches Ace up and reseals his suit, then sends him back to the ship while Walker continues into the colony.
Conway and a nurse prep a biodome in the medical bay to treat the injured Ace and investigate the dead body. Wearing biohazard gear, the medical officer begins treatment of Ace and autopsy of the body, but Conway does not notice the tear in the biodome.
UNKNOWNS: Environmental hazards and intelligent enemies
Phase 4: Exploration
Conway radios Walker to find the Environment Control and retrieve “T629 vial” (Walker has no idea what this is). Ont he way there, a door trap explore, severely wounding one team member and destroying stairwell and hallway back to the ship. The doro reveals a barracks full of disgruntled workers…but they are building something.
Back in the med bay, Conway restrains the pilot and comms to Walker that he needs that vial, yesterday please. Conway then synthesizes a substance from the dead worker and begins injecting that into the pilot, but it causes a violent reaction.
Ace rolls the bed and breaks it apart, killing the nurse and knocking Conway to the side. Ace runs for the engine room, but the bed gets caught in a hallway next to a vent.
UNKNOWN: Who will cause problems during the escape?
Phase 5: Escape
Back in the colony, Walker discovers that the colonist are survivors, who are building a supergun. They all head to Environmental Control, fighting off Reavers the whole way. They make it, grab the vial, and proceed to the extraction point.
Conway radios Walker for the vial, and is notified that he has it. They rendezvous. Conway takes the vial, along with the survivors, workers, and a fire team. They move through the ship, attempting to install the vial in the ship’s own air purifiers, but as they head down the final hallway Ace leaps out of a ventilation shaft.
Ace leaps at Conway, knocking the vial out of her hands and smashing it. Walker and Conway make their way to the nearest shuttle to escape to a nearby asteroid. However, a member of the fire team exhibits Reaver symptoms. Conway shoots him.
Walker demands an explanation. Conway explains that he was given orders that nobody outside of this ship would ever find out what happened at the colony. With the vial broken, everyone on the ship is now infected, other than the two of them. They run for the shuttle and board amid explosion and rapid gunfire. There’s a rapid countdown and lift-off. As Conway radios out her final report, the station and ship explode, with the shuttle apparently caught in the explosion.
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