[SPOILERS for “Behind the Curtain”]
Hi, this post is hopefully the first in a series revolving around the Traveller campaign “Behind the Curtain” that I am playing in. I’ve never played Traveller before, so this is will be a new experience. From what I’ve heard, violence is brutal and unforgiving, and it is very easy to lose your character. I’ve also heard that it does a reasonable job of portraying science fiction settings, so I’m excited.
I’m going to try to write something after every session that will be a mix of updates on what happened (which will likely be interesting only to me as a record) and my observations on the Traveller system, the story, PC interactions, and GM style. This series is not meant to be a critique of anyone, but rather to encourage me to think deeply about what works and what doesn’t and why. After all, I’m really still just starting into the world of tabletops.
Please be aware, this series will contain spoilers for the character and campaign. I will warn about character spoilers in case other players are reading in real time with the campaign.
Without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce First Lieutenant Melodi LeBeau. Melodi grew up on Vide, one of the most technologically advanced planets in the Regency (the main human inter-planetary coalition). Her parents were both marines of some renown, and that made things tough because on Vide, Maurice Columbini has a lot of influence, and is strongly anti-military. To complicate matters, Melodi’s mother is one of Columbini’s myriad descendants. The politics didn’t really affect Melodi directly though, and she grew up with a love of singing and acting and a dream to be an opera singer.
It was not to be however, as Melodi’s parents insisted that Melodi attend the Military Academy on Depot (a planet near-ish to Vide with a much larger military base) instead. And so, with great reluctantness, Melodi enrolled. While at the Academy, Melodi earned a reputation for never talking unless directly addressed by a superior officer. She was surly and moody but from growing up with her parents, knew better than to talk back or complain. Eventually her classmates took to calling her “chit-chat”.
While still at the Academy, Melodi began searching for a way out of the military, but it was not until she served her first term of duty with the marines that she found her answer. Her platoon served as escort to diplomats working with planets recently re-contacted post-burn. The burn refers to a deadly Virus that infected technology and brutally crippled the Regency not so many years ago. Melodi appreciated the role of the diplomats, and began to study diplomacy in what free time she could manage. Her squad-mates revived the name “chit-chat” to tease her.
Near the end of her term of service, Melodi was looking forward to getting out of the Marines and working as a civilian diplomat. While she held her comrades in the highest respect, she never seemed to quite fit in. Unfortunately, once again it was not to be. Melodi’s fire squad was captured on a crazy techno-phobic backwater planet and held prisoner. If Melodi believed in them, she’d say it was a miracle that they got out of there alive after being held for over two years.
After that, Melodi turned all of her attention to becoming a hostage negotiator. She continued to serve in the Marines, and started to work with the Regency government. After a particularly high profile terrorist situation on a Regency world, Melodi was promoted to first lieutenant and started to branch out and work with newly re-contacted planets, mostly as a hostage negotiator, but occasionally to arrange treaties, trade agreements and the like. Some might say that Melodi was crazy for going back out to the kinds of technophobic planets that were responsible for her imprisonment, but having been through it, Melodi can’t conceive of leaving her brothers out there to fend for themselves.
Melodi is serving on the Maelstrom ship as both a marine and a diplomat with extensive experience in working with technophobic cultures.
**Warning: Spoilers Ahead** (highlight the text to read)
Now that you know the official version, let talk about who Melodi really is. Sure she started out disliking the military, mostly on account of her parents forcing her to attend the Academy, but that all changed pretty quickly. Melodi grew up with marines for parents. She fit right in with the marines and made a handful of very close friends. Her performance in basic training soon attracted the attention of a mentor, who guided Melodi’s career toward special ops. Melodi found her first use for her acting skills – under her mentor’s direction, she continued to pretend she was miserable and couldn’t wait to get out.
Melodi served her term with the Marines, but at the end of it, rather than being captured and held prisoner, Melodi was secretly transported off-world along with her fire-squad to participate in a raid against a couple of strongholds for a black market with a notorious reputation for selling Virus booby-trapped technology. Melodi learned a lot of her sneaking and intrusion skills from these raids with the special ops.
Melodi rolled into a second special ops term, this time with an oddly public twist. She went to work as a hostage negotiator, helping to undo situations like the one she was supposed to have been in herself. Her mentor helped maneuver things in the background to get her involved with a couple of high profile terrorist situations on Regency worlds. Melodi then went off to work in the Wilds on newly and recently re-contacted worlds. The missions were not always purely diplomatic. It was probably more than once that Melodi and her team were actually sent to solve the problem with a “smash-and-grab” operation, or an assassination.
**No seriously, major spoilers at this point. Go away if you aren’t supposed to be reading this**
The public persona of a diplomat/negotiator with a growing reputation for success in contacting planets which were stranded during the Burn put Melodi in the perfect position to be involved in “The Black Expedition”, which was of course the whole point of the public persona. Melodi is special ops after all.
While Melodi is a competent negotiator, that’s not why a lot of people made damn sure she got an assignment on the Maelstrom. Melodi is going behind the curtain for 3 reasons. One is to recover EMP resistant tech and advanced AI tech from Argusap, one of the planets near the edge of the burn. The second is to attempt to recover Virus “eggs” for research purposes from near the center of the black curtain region. And thirdly, she is to investigate two highly classified research projects. She is to do this all without tipping off the Vilani first officer, or the Vilani marine officer who outranks her. And while the captain and the marine commander aboard know she is up to something, they don’t know exactly and can’t help her directly or afford to play favorites if she does something out of line to fulfill her mission. But if she manages it somehow, she gets her own command, in the form of a black ops scout ship when all is said and done.
Let’s see how it goes…