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Subject: What am I missing? Not enough things to do. rss

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Chris Kessel
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I've played this I think 3 times now (can't recall if it's 2 or 3, got shoved back into the closet). It seems like we must be missing something because characters don't seem to have much to do. In a space combat, the engineer sits in the engine rooms and rolls repeatedly to pump engines...and that's really it. The pilot repeatedly rolls to turn faster or some similar maneuver...and that's really it.

What is it that we're missing? It seems like much of the game the useful choices are pretty limited.
 
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Graham Smallwood
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Like all RPGs, the quality of the experience comes down to the capabilities of the DM. The ship should be under attack so the engineer is running around fixing modules as he works the engines. The ship should be in an asteroid field so the pilot has to keep out of their way as well get the cannons to bear on the target.

Basically, if you aren't in a high-stress situation every turn, the DM is doing it wrong.
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Jay Shaffstall
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Ditto on Graham's response...engineers should be stressing over the decision of, "Do I repair module X, or do I pump engines?" The pilot should be yelling at the engineer to repair the helm so he can turn the ship before it runs into an asteroid. The scientist should be frantically ECMing incoming missiles.

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Flying Arrow
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Ideally, they should win with 0 luck remaining. Or lose thinking they would have won if they had 1 luck remaining. Not that I can do that...
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Neal Sofge
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Also, bear in mind that the later phases might get a little sparse, since most modules can only be used once each round. Once you get used to the cadence of the game, those phases go fast with a lot of preparing or bracing.
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William Hostman
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Also, the engineer shouldn't be sitting, but pumping multiple engines...

Turn 1
Phase 1 Pump engine A
Phase 2 move toward engine B
Phase 3 arrive at engine B
Phase 4 Pump engine B
Phase 5 move toward Engine A
Phase 6 arrive engine A
Repeat for turn 2.
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I would also say your ships aren't getting boarded enough either. A good pilot will know when to spin the wheel to give the GM enough negatives to his roll and know to steady it on the roll of the players. You could also take the Han Solo approach and just LEAVE the helm and shoot people off your ship (I know I have!)

At the same time as a pilot you should also be communicating with the engineer so that way you know when you need extra power to pump engines and help adjust power accordingly (as well as steadying the ship so they can pump without OOC effecting them!) nobody is ever restricted to the ship...but sooner or later somebody's has got to make sure it isn't drifting away into space.
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Chris Kessel
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aramis wrote:
Also, the engineer shouldn't be sitting, but pumping multiple engines...

Turn 1
Phase 1 Pump engine A
Phase 2 move toward engine B
Phase 3 arrive at engine B
Phase 4 Pump engine B
Phase 5 move toward Engine A
Phase 6 arrive engine A
Repeat for turn 2.

I'm not sure why there's any more fun in that than standing in one spot...

I played the first couple scenarios and I guess it just didn't pan out for some reason. We'll have to try with one that looks a bit more varied.
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William Hostman
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ckessel wrote:
aramis wrote:
Also, the engineer shouldn't be sitting, but pumping multiple engines...

Turn 1
Phase 1 Pump engine A
Phase 2 move toward engine B
Phase 3 arrive at engine B
Phase 4 Pump engine B
Phase 5 move toward Engine A
Phase 6 arrive engine A
Repeat for turn 2.

I'm not sure why there's any more fun in that than standing in one spot...

I played the first couple scenarios and I guess it just didn't pan out for some reason. We'll have to try with one that looks a bit more varied.


Player activity is player involvement. lack of involvement is inherently boring.
 
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Jeff Siadek
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The Engineer should just pump engines and maximize power.
The Pilot just points the ship in the right direction and gets up to maximum speed.
The Marine and Scientist just twiddle their thumbs. They might assist the Engineer and Pilot.

This is how running a starship is supposed to go.

Of course, the mission shatters the monotony.

The pilot can't perform maneuvers in a broken helm. Boarders invited everybody to participate in personal combat. There are wounded to heal but the scientist is way too busy asking questions about the anomaly or why everybody on board are rapidly transmogrifying into goo. The Engineer abandons his post to go fix the helm but along the way, he stands by the airlock waiting to reach out and grab a valuable crystal.
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Michael Matecha
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Player involvement in roleplaying and shouting out requests/demands etc helps a lot.

Our biggest challenge is in making the empty (nothing to pump/shoot/steer)r phases of a round go by fast enough.

To help with this the GM should try to limit the player's Analysis Paralysis about what to do and the order in which to do it.

Impose a set time limit or just say "More missiles are about to fly" or "Gee Is that the sound of ANOTHER ship warping in?" to get them moving.

This shortens the phases and the game time and adds tension.

One of my top 5 games after we got the hang of it

 
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Ian Gill
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The strength of the game for my group is that, after the first couple of games were over, they began to work out all the rolls they need to make, add 'used' tokens, etc without me having to do this. They play the basic part like a board game, ie I dont have to GM the basics.

This leaves me free to play the bad guys properly, and to focus on the pace of the game and interupt whenever necessary to add pressure or challenges.

Yes, if I think back, there are times when some choices/actions seemed mundane but that actually is a huge strength.
In a full role-playing space game, the mundane running of the ship is often ignored and charaters only act when things need to happen.
eg. GM... "Something is causing a power loss, what to you do?" Suddenly no-one knows exactly where their character is, how long it takes to run down the corridor, who is closest, etc

In Battlestations, characters know where they are in the ship, how the mechanics work, what the likely effect is if the slow down suddenly etc.
The simple way players can operate the ship provides real context when something unusual happens.
eg GM... " a torpedo has damaged the middle engine". immediately the Engineer knows it will take him three extra turns to reach the other engine or risk entering the damaged section. Can the scientist pump the engine instead ?

On the face of it, the game might seem to encourage less role playing, in that the board game element could make things less descriptive.
However, I believe Battlestations can lead to better role-playing as the practicalities of "how far away is the console", " is that Alien blob visible", "can I reach the airlock before the bomb explodes", "what happens if we try to slow down to speed 4" is more easliy seen/known, and adding the descriptives/characterisations becomes the main focus in a good group.

The clone concept also helps the game work as, whilst failure is never desirable to players, characters can die and missions can be failed without it spoiling the long running campaign. In some RPGs I've seen GMs help the players too much just to ensure that long-standing characters survive.

In summery, handing the ship etc may seem dull and boring at times, and some characters wont have much to do. However, once the group has these bits fully grasped, potentially 'dull' turns will be fast and can be left to the other players.
The GM should then be free to play the bad guys with feeling, give the situations proper descriptions, and make the game come alive.

If you look at the scenarios, the varied situations take half a page each. This leaves the group to add the atmosphere, and turn each half page into a memorable game. I doubt there are many Sci-fi film/TV/book moments that you cant incorporate in some way into Battlestations

Weve been playing the "Pax G" campaign. As as wake-up call, I introduced a pure combat challenge from the basic rulebook and the players had a great game.

Hope this helps.

ian






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