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[HoE] Story idea could use some fine tuning and suggestions

 
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Sheriff Axly
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Joined: 03 Oct 2003
Posts: 180
Location: Tampa Bay, FL

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:42 pm    Post subject: [HoE] Story idea could use some fine tuning and suggestions Reply with quote

Heya folks! I've started a Hell on Earth campaign (my first) and I'm coming up with the PC's first story. I've run them through a couple quick and simple encounters to introduce them to the world and a bit of the rules, but this will be their first actual plotted story and I could use a few tips or ideas to spruce it up some.

The campaign setup: the PCs are all productive members of the small survivor community Ironbar, Kansas. The town has 90 citizens and is located inside what was the very large warehouse of the Ironbar Furniture Company located just a few miles from Deerfield, Kansas. Many of the current citizens of Ironbar are former employees of the furniture company and their families. Other citizens are refugees from Deerfield, which was the site of a quick but violent skirmish that tore up the small town just days before Judgment Day.

The PCs: I have five players. Their characters are a gunslinger, a syker, a blessed, a survivalist, and a mechanic. The syker and the blessed have lived in Ironbar for six years now. The survivalist came to the place three years ago, and the gunslinger and mechanic roughly six months ago.

That's the (very brief) setup for my game. My overall plan is to run three or four stories out of Ironbar before putting them into a situation where they have to leave the town on a "quest" to save their friends and fellow citizens. (More on that later if anyone is interested.)

This first full adventure is inspired by a question the mechanic's player asked me last gaming session. His character, as I mentioned, has only been in town six months and he's the town's mechanic. Ironbar has two working 24' box trucks with three more that they cannibalize for parts and other material. There are also two or three cars owned by various citizens that he keeps running. He asked me a very simple question: what happened to the last mechanic?

Here's my answer and the setup for the story. Austin MacLeod was a decent mechanic making a satisfactory living in Deerfield prior to Judgment Day. After the Apocalypse, he found himself living in the survivor settlement of Ironbar and working as the mechanic there. He also began picking up a bit of junking skills. But, like many survivors, he was living without goals or direction for his life.

That changed a couple years later. The town hired three goons to "protect" Ironbar from raiders and other dangers. They came into town and quickly took over the place, bullying everyone into submission. A woman, a drifter, came along and rescued the town from their own folly. She was heralded as a saviour, and she accepted the job as the town's new marshal. Austin knew exactly then what he wanted to do with his life: protect and defend those who might not be able to do it for themselves.

MacLeod left Ironbar and eventually hooked up with a Law Dog. During his travels, he became more proficient with junking. He earned his own Law Dog star and began to make a name for himself. He was quite flashy as a Law Dog with a jet pack and a plasma pistol of his own making. He became known as Austin "Ace" MacLeod. A writer in Junkyard, a former Epitaph reporter, wrote a dime novel about him based on an encounter he had with sky pirates. "Ace" MacLeod - Sky Ranger! is well known in certain areas of the Wasted West, and he's even appeared in a few scenes of one of the Director's vids, Law Dogs: Badges and Bullets.

So, that's what heppened to Ironbar's old mechanic (and I gave the player a red chip for his inspiring question). Ace comes flying back into Ironbar for a visit. He wants to see his old friends again and reconnect with "small town" values and basically take a vacation. Or so he says.

The truth is he's in trouble. Serious trouble. He's tangled with the Combine too many times to be a nuisance to them anymore. And he got sloppy the last time. Ace got caught and was taken to see Throckmorton himself. After spending some quality time with the general, he made his escape. He's come home to Ironbar to hide out, build some weapons, recoup, and go after the Combine once and for all. But he'd feel a lot more comfortable and strongly about the situation... if it weren't for that nagging itch at the base of his skull.

I call the story, "Zero to Hero, and Back Again." Here's the basic structure of it so far.

- Home town hero Ace MacLeod returns to Ironbar for "reunion and vacation." It's a good opportunity to show the players they can become more than just a gunslinger, a syker, a blessed, a survivalist, and a mechanic. It will also present a very nice way for them to ask questions about the world and for me to answer them "in character."

- He secretly builds two (or more) weapons he plans to use against the Combine: a four-armed and heavily armored robot and a device he calls a Kill Switch that will disable Combine (or any other) automatons. He'll try to cover up the real junking projects with building devices that the town can use.

- He will, of course, screw up the robot (on accident). It will come online and begin wreaking havoc in Ironbar. It's going to mortally wound Ace (sorry, Ace!) and the players will have to be clever to bring it down (the Kill Switch can be used here if they know about it or find it). With Ace's dying breath, he'll tell the PCs, "Throckmorton is coming." (A medical exam might find the implanted chip for some confirmation.)

- And then some Combine black hats will show up for their usual rigamarole and offers (the Combine was unaware of Ironbar until now). They'll also be looking for Ace to return him to custody. This scene introduces the players to the Combine and we'll see how they deal with them... or deal with them.

Well, that's essentially what I've come up with as the story. It seems a little light to me though, and I welcome ideas and tips to fill it out more.

Thanks!
Rich
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Sheriff Axly
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Joined: 03 Oct 2003
Posts: 180
Location: Tampa Bay, FL

PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any ideas here?

It just seems a little too simple of a story, and I'd like to expand or refine it a bit.
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JerseyParagon
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Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Rich
Congrats on the campaign, I read this before Christmas and thought it was a very cool jumping off point.

At the end of the day its your campaign so bring on the fear...

I did have a few questions though.

1. Is Ironbar the posse's base of operations or is a change of scenery in their future?

2. Do you want it to be there after the encounter? If the General is coming it would mean bad times for the entire town.

3. How good of a roleplayer is your mechanic? If he can handle it, or if he cannot and you want something to hold over his head for some comic relief, you could give him the persona of becoming MacLeod. Mac could give him an unmistakable weapon or armor, that covered his face like a mini-relic of sorts that only he uses and is famous for that people will mistakenly assume that he is MacLeod.
***Welder's Mask*** used in combat but provides armor or intimidation etc..

4. Have the townspeople or more specifically the sheriff know the secret of the chip in Mac. Old fling maybe? If the posse does not figure it out, she can tell them to get the body away from the town so the black hats will still be an open threat as opposed to an "Oh Dear Lord, its the first real session and we are gonna get our rears kicked" threat.

If the town is going to be a base of operations you will need to figure out a way to keep the combine away or kill those that either know of it before they send the info back to Denver.

Actually that might be a good piece of junk to make a communication jammer, since communications is crap anyway, this could make it worse, if thats even possible.

With all of that excess truck equipment, you may have an out if Convoy finds out about the town, or more importantly if you need to move the town.

Again its a good story and the set up of the robot gone bad is a really nice surprise. I think the fact that it is "light" is because the "What If" at the ends needs to be tightened up with some options.

Also this is going to be a ton of RP for the Mechanic but the rest of the group may be lacking for things to do. The gunslinger can hang w/ the law or avoid them if need be. The Blessed (which is awesome to have in HOE by the way) can preach and try and heal a little or convert, the Syker will be given the evil eye and the survivalist will be looking for supplies like Les Stroud would.

Hope that helps
RV
Mac
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Sheriff Axly
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Joined: 03 Oct 2003
Posts: 180
Location: Tampa Bay, FL

PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Jm, and I'm glad you like the way I'm beginning things.

To answer some of your own questions (and thank you for asking them)

1. Ironbar is the posse's base of ops for now. the idea is that I wanted to give the players a place they feel is their home. I want them to care about their surroundings, and more importantly, about their fellow Ironbar citizens. So as they were creating their characters I stressed that they were productive members of the survivor town and that they've been living there for a minimum of 6 months. Of the five, two are 6-monthers, one is a third year resident, and the other two have been there from the beginning, 6 years. I fleshed out many of the more important NPCs such as the mayor, the marshal, the "doctor" (such that she is), etc.

Eventually, after a few stories, I'm going to rip the town apart and send the posse on a quest to save the townsfolk. After that, they'll be free to travel about and save other towns.

2. Ace MacLeod is unwittingly leading the Combine to Ironbar. He's come home because he's in trouble and needs a place to hide out while he makes his grand, but doomed, plans. He is kinda aware of the chip in his noggin, but chooses to ignore it. Sort of like when you know there's a problem in your car but you think ignoring it will make it go away. At the end of the story, the Combine will come to the town in the form of a Black Hat squad, not the General himself or any other forces. The chip in Ace's noggin was more of a way to keep track of him rather than anything too malicious or militant.

So basically, the Combine will now be aware of Ironbar and will dispatch a squad of Black Hats to try to talk them into joining the Combine and sending the monthly loot wagons and such. And, of course, several of the town's citizens will voice their opinions in both directions, and the players can figure out how they want to handle it.

3. That's a really interesting idea. Sort of like the Dread Pirate Roberts gig from Princess Bride. I'll have to give it some thought. The mechanic player did express an interest in learning how to junk from Ace...

4. I have very specific plans for the marshal. But it's possible that she or someone else in town will know about the Combine chips. Its also possible that they will only discover what the chips do after the fact. "How did the Combine know we were here?!" Of course, they may blame Ace for all the troubles, and it may villefy him, but them's the shakes.

How the posse and the town deals with recurring Black Hats will be fun to watch. The Combine will never make too much of an effort against the town, unless the posse wants to make it personal.

While Ace is in town, he'll be making a few things that will be useful. Generators, med kits, the "Kill Switch," and other goodness. A communication jammer might be fun. Maybe it's unfinished and the mechanic player can see it as a project to lure him into junking. Ace likely started putting it together in an attempt to silence that chip in his head, but that's when the automa'glom decided to go rogue... (Good idea!)

The Convoy won't likely discover Ironbar. The place is fairly well out of the way, but you never know. They thought they were safe from the Combine too...

Ace's presence makes alot of good RP opportunities, but yeah, definitely a bit more for the mechanic. But then again, it was his question that sparked the whole tale, and I hope the other players pick up on that. Wink

Thanks again, JM! and if you have any follow up questions or suggestions, please write 'em.

Rich
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JerseyParagon
Novice


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK Sherrif
Feel free to keep asking questions I know I lurk more than respond so you know it will at least be read.

I know Wordmaker ran/is running a Classic campaign that he actually posts the sessions. Great ideas in his games, by the way...
http://www.dicehunters.ie/forum/YaBB.pl

Ya know your gaming is slow, when you relocate for a job, and cannot make game night due to the 5 hour commute and live vicariously through the Irish Wink .

Quote:
So basically, the Combine will now be aware of Ironbar and will dispatch a squad of Black Hats to try to talk them into joining the Combine and sending the monthly loot wagons and such. And, of course, several of the town's citizens will voice their opinions in both directions, and the players can figure out how they want to handle it.


I was thinking about your robot gone wrong idea and thought I would offer a suggestion on timing.
Something that may be cool, even if Mac Leod knows about the chip is the way the giant robot could malfunction.
If you remember Terminator or in Robo Cop where the have a screen of directives or responses for certain situations?
-The giant robot could accidently malfunction by "Eliminating the Combine Threat." Once all the black hats are down or even better during the fight the robot turns on MacLeod because it locks on to the chip. This is just a diversion of what you wrote but different timing.

As some more "things to do" or busy time while in the town. You could try some of these:

-Mac is looking for a certain material component for one of his inventions and asks the posse to go on a scavenger hunt.
-The local law dog asks the posse's help in transporting a prisoner far enough away to exile them.
-The town mayor or community council asks for help due to some food supplies being destroyed in a fire or crash or other random event.
-Bribe the black hats to get the locations of some other survivor towns, may be a place to go to get help against the big guys and see how the towns react. They may gain the assistance of a Templar when they get the doors slammed in their face.

All of these are simple enough to work on or expand on as needed to fill time. Better yet, they will feel like productive members of the community. This could be a good filler before your big exodus.

I think the intro you have planned will be enough to give them a sense of responsibility that will link them to the town. The set up will kick them in the rear once they realize that their little part of the wasted west is about to get blown all to hell.

You do realize that after action reports will be needed so I know what happens.. Very Happy please Wink .

Hope that helps and keep 'em coming!
RV
Mac
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