odheirre (odheirre) wrote in roleplayers,

Our Serenity campaign finally ended yesterday. I have an Excel sheet I was using to keep track of experience points, which I highly recommend. It started 6/28/2007, and lasted 35 sessions (we play every week roughly, where I and another GM alternate games, so Serenity was every other week).

The crew of the Kismet ran into some problems (attempted mutiny), which left the captain and some of the crew in a crippled ship. Everyone but the captain (Jacob Prescott) took a shuttle to planetside, and when they came back, the ship was depressurized and the captain dead. His will left the ship to his estranged brother (Sterling Prescott), who became the new captain. The will itself was touching and fun to write, and one of the conditions of the ship was the remainder of the old crew stay on. Sterling's friend (Jamie) joined him, and they got some new crew to fill some holes.

Cookie also knew a coffin-sized package was on the ship, and it was gone when they got back to the ship. No one wanted to play the engineer, so I made Tick-Tock very autistic and agoraphobic, but an engineering genius.

Character list
Old crew: Dixie "Cookie" Radcliffe, quartermaster (played by Kevin), Diego Lee Delgado, thug (played by Ram), "Tick-Tock" Kilroy, engineer (NPC)
New crew: Sterling Prescott, captain (played by Phil), Jamie McDerrmott, medic/bodyguard (played by Brian)
Hired on: Kyra "Mercy" Marie Litton, pilot (played by Amy)
Passengers: Sammi Charleston, runaway (NPC), Jodhi Chen, gambler (NPC)

Ram left the campaign a few sessions in due to other time commitments, so Lee quickly became another NPC. Sammi was hired on as co-pilot, and Jodhi eventually left after the above-mentioned gambling contest. Halfway through, they picked up another NPC (Kip Adams), and hired him on as another security guy. Then Bill asked if he could join, so he started playing Kip when he was in town. My niece visited occasionally, and I had her play Sammi -- my niece was new to roleplaying, so I made sure she had a lot of spotlight time when she visited.

They started getting jobs to pay the bills, they run into characters which would become recurring NPCs, and then they get a very lucrative job to bring someone back alive. They follow him to Shadow, where there's an underground cavern that opens up into a stone castle. They wade through weird stuff, and one of the characters sees a green glow and vague hint of tentacles. They get out alive as the castle collapses around them. The folks who take the bounty are very secretive and weird.

Later on, they went to Londinium to infiltrate an Alliance research facility (an old widow hires them to investigate the death of her son). A few of the projects spawned from a teleportation device that went awry, causing the ship to enter into another dimension and bring stuff back. Tick-Tock was on this mission, but the PCs didn't know this, and didn't find out. Things go haywire, one of the sensitives starts summoning things, and Cthultian monsters start wandering the halls and killing people, causing panic.

Next was a global news story -- the Redcoats, a rebel terrorist offshoot, use Ancient magic to summon Cthulhu to bring down the Alliance. It starts at Londinium, enveloping the planet in a mist that destroys all life on the planet. Shadow is eventually next, with earthquakes and landslides that bury everyone.

Finally, they track down the old captain's activities to a medical base on Kaneto Trinity Station. They learn that he made a clone of himself, and did a brainscan of Tick-Tock, both costing a lot of money that Jacob supposedly didn't have. They go to Persephone (where Jacob was buried), and determined that who they buried was a clone. They take a copy of the brainscan and learn that Tick-Tock was involved in the experiments.

They give the brainscan to a professor, and he tells them that they need to work fast to get to Londinium -- otherwise, the whole universe will get eaten by Cthulhu. They get to Londinium, fight the herald there, and close the last gate, saving Londinium and the universe. The Alliance takes the credit.

Finally, they track down Jacob (now fabulously wealthy but still on edge because he's dealing with crazed cultists), Cookie and Sterling confront him. Jacob is still an ass and looking out for himself. Jacob wants Tick-Tock as a bargaining chip, and threatens the crew. In a sword fight, they knock Jacob out. They leave him alive, sell the Kismet (because Jacob still has the old codes and could theoretically screw with them), get a new ship, and their adventures continue.

And this is just the main story. There were dozens of sidequests and loose ends -- early on, they met Mary Ann Quartermain, daughter of a crime boss, who was a constant way into trouble. Jamie was living under a pseudonym and estranged from his family, and he finally made amends. Mercy and Sammi both were running from arranged marriages -- both escaped. Jodhi entered a gambling contest a la Maverick where a whole list of competitions and parties kept the crew entertained. Lee ended up being an Alliance spy told to keep track of Tick-Tock (they knew someone was after him) -- he eventually was found out and left on Londinium. The ex-fiancee of Mercy was killed by Mercy and Sterling, and in retaliation, their family killed Mercy's parents. Of course, Mercy retaliated. Jamie ran into an old enemy, Captain Duke Minor, that became a thorn in their side. And on and on. It got to the point where I almost didn't need to plan the campaigns, the characters drove the campaign and got themselves into enough trouble. There were some missteps and some plots that the players obviously weren't interested in, so I scrapped those and rewrote when necessary.

Also, the character interactions were interesting. There was the "old crew" and "new crew" conflicts, as Cookie knew more about the ship than the captain did. Folks had a lot of secrets. And Phil played Sterling as a captain who's willing to let his crew go on side missions, willing to support them, but wanted to know the truth, so that conflict was neat. The mix between the familiar Serenity universe and the Cthulhu mythos worked well -- yes, they were playing Arkham Horror and didn't know it.

The Serenity rules are a bit goofy, but they did well here. This was very cinematic, very visual, very big damn hero. The plot points are a wonderful mechanic that I'm going to port over to my next campaign (alternate reality superhero GURPS).

So, a question -- how long do your games last? Do they end with a bang or a whimper? I've had games fizzle out due to lack of interest, and games that frankly ran a bit too long. This was one of the ones that lasted just long enough.

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