12 Feb 2019

Test Run - Scum and Villainy - The Ship

Now that Tanya and Katya are done for Scum and Villainy, it's time to get their ship ready.  To follow along, grab the playbooks from Evil Hat's site.

A quick aside before starting.  Something I'm noticing in recent science fiction RPGs is the ability for players to customize their PCs' starship before play begins.  While older games did allow for custom ships and customizing existing ships, it was expensive for the characters.  Traveller is typical here; everything has a cost, sometimes more than what characters have on hand, though loans are available.  However, with RPGs like Firefly, Scum and Villainy, and even Star Trek Adventures, players can customize their ships before play starts.  No two ships need be the same, even if they are the same class, and can reflect what the players want.

Back to Tanya and Katya's ship.  When I created Tanya, I specified that I'd be using the smuggling vessel instead of the other two choices.  Katya fits in there, though she could also be with the other two available in the core book.  Tanya doesn't really fit with the others, though.

Step 1 - Choose ship
While this is the first thing done with character creation with the other players, the choise gets fleshed out here.  Since the choice was the smugglers, the ship is the Stardancer.  The game names the ships, but there's nothing stopping players from renaming them.  The Stardancer is akin to Serenity from Firefly and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, small freighter with a crew that sees laws as guidelines and obstacles.  The Stardancer starts with a cargo hold and smuggling compartments, a jump drive, a galley, and the ability to train Insight actions.  The jump drive is the setting's faster-than-light engine, like the Falcon's hyperdrive, though it works more like Babylon 5's jump gates.  It's something that can be renamed for different settings.

Step 2 - Choose reputation
There's eight possible reps to choose, or I can create one of my own.  I'll stick to what's listed for now, and take Savvy.  This version of the Stardancer is known for being aware and on the ball, for being a step ahead.  Anytime in game that the PCs demonstrate that rep, the ship gets an experience point.  I could have gone with Honourable, like Serenity, Daring, like the Falcon, or Professional, like the Normandy from Mass Effect.

Step 3 - Customize ship
The Stardancer starts with two creds, the setting's currency abstracted, and the items listed in step 1 above - the jump drive, a cargo hold, smuggling compartments, and a galley.  I can upgrade two of Engines, Hull, Comms, and Weapons, or improve improve the crew instead at the cost of the two creds.  I'll keep the creds for now - ships need maintenance - and just upgrade the base ship.  First upgrade is Engines; smugglers and blockade runners need speed to outrun Imperial entanglements.  The other upgrade is put into Hull.  The Stardancer can now smuggle people in the hidden compartments without killing them in the process.

At this step, the GM can choose a faction that helped get the characters the upgrades.  The players normally decide how the crew responded.  Putting myself in the GM's seat for a moment, I'll choose the Borniko Syndicate, a gang of high tech thieves.  In this example, I'll go with owing the faction a favour back.  The Stardancer's crew is savvy and isn't about to stiff someone; neither will the crew risk being short on creds when it's time for maintenance.  The crew gets +1 status with that faction, becoming a little friendlier with them.

Step 4 - Choose special ability
There's a number of special abilities listed on the Stardancer's sheet.  The Getaway fits with the general theme I'm heading towards with the ship - fast, nimble, and able to slip away.

Step 5 - Assign upgrades
The Stardancer begins with a galley and Insight training, as mentioned above, and gets two more.  Some upgrades are ship-specific; bounty hunters aren't going to need smuggler's rigging.  The first upgrade I choose is Afterburners, to keep with the speed theme.  This Stardancer isn't going to be easy to catch.  The second upgrade I'll take is False Ship Papers.  "Why no, Mr. Customs Agent, this is clearly the Nova Rose, just like it says in the ship's papers.  I've never heard of this Stardancer you keep talking about."

I was considering Land Rover, for when the crew needed to get around on a planet, but my idea of the vehicle is slightly more military.  What came to my mind were the Mako from Mass Effect and the Landram from the original Battlestar Galactica.  Both are too well armed and armoured to be used for smuggling.

The GM gets to introduce two more factions now.  One helped with getting the upgrades; the other got shafted.  Putting the GM's hat back on, I'll pick House Malkaith, a powerful noble family, and the Mendicants, a former church whose followers are now travelling healers.  Back as the characters, I pick the Mendicants as the helpful faction.  They get +1 status, and now I'll spend a cred to raise that to +2.  House Malkaith thus gets -2 status, and I'm not spending cred to improve that.  The why, though, needs a bit of work.  Could be that the Stardancer smuggled a group of Mendicants from under Malkaith noses, though the deception was discovered and a chase ensured.  "You idiot!  That's the Stardancer!  Engines full throttle!  We'll get them before they reach the jumpgate!"

Step 6 - Choose favourite contact
Each ship's playbook includes five contacts, all of whom are friendly to the crew.  One, though, is closer than the rest.  From the list given for the Stardancer, I'll take T'kala, the dockmaster.  The crew has bailed him out a few times, so he gives them a heads-up on jobs and on heat coming down on them.  The GM then picks two more factions who are affected by this choice.  Back as GM, I'll take the Starsmiths Guild, who maintain the jumpgates, and Vigilence, warrior mystics who work for their vision of justice.  Returning to the Stardancer, the Starsmiths seem like a good one for T'kala to be on the good side of - maintaining the local jumpgates means needing a place to repair their transports.  T'kala, being the dockmaster, can get to know the local Starsmiths.  Vigilence, though, has no use for smugglers and anyone who associates with them.

Step 7 - Update ship info
One calculation needs to be done.  Upkeep is one quarter the sum of all systems and crew quality, in this case, (0+3+2+0+0)/4, rounded down, or 1.  The crew of the Stardancer is going to need a job soon.  The number of available gambits, which can be used by any of the PCs to get an extra die, is 2.

The Stardancer is ready to zip through the black of space.  The crew has some allies and a couple of enemies.  Two of the crew are details - Tanya and Katya.  There's plenty of room for more, and the ship needs a pilot at the minumum.

The ship's pre-game stats:

Crew Reputation: Savvy
Crew: 0/3
Hull: 3/4
  Cargo Hold
  Smuggling Compartments
Engines: 2/4
  Jump Drive
Comms: 0/3
Weapons: 0/2

Creds: 1
Gambits: 2
Upkeep [(Systems+Crew)/4]: 1

Special Abilities:
  The Getaway

Modules and Upgrades:
Ship Gear
Crew Gear
Ship Specific
  False Ship Papers

Faction Relations:
  Borniko Syndicate: Status +1
  Mendicants: Status +2
  House Malkaith: Status -2
  Starsmiths Guild: Status +1
  Vigilence: Status -1

As always, if you use this, let me know how it goes.

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