This is the first in a series of posts chronicling our journey behind the black curtain in Traveller, and the insights and observations I make about the campaign.

Technically this post is a few sessions behind,  but I’m not too concerned about posting immediately after each session. It is useful for me to mull things over before I try to write it down.

First, a summary of our exploits, from Melodi’s perspective of course:  

The Maelstrom and Viewer ships reached the edge of the black curtain, six months after starting our journey. We first investigate Gakakar and Fogseth, two planets close to the edge. Both are completely destroyed, but there is some evidence that Gakakar may have gotten a scout ship out, clean of virus, to warn surrounding systems.

Day one of the campaign starts with our arrival on Argusap. We jump in, and are almost immediately contacted by two groups. One group calls itself the “Governor” of Seperin, the smaller of the two continents on the planet. The other group calls itself “The Librarians” and warns us that both Seperin and Efret are controlled by virus. Before we can do much more, two shiny, new, Maelstrom sized ships jump in and open fire on us. With the help of some intra-system ships that come from behind the moon, we fight them off, but not before one of the satellites explodes.

Once that conflict is resolved, we make a sweep around the moon to check on the navy base. I t appears uninhabitable, but that the intra-system ships came from it. We then sweep around the far side of the planet to look at the other continent, Efret. In the end, we send to liason missions down to the planet – one to the capital of Separin, and the other, containing the PCs, to the isthmus connecting the two continents to meet with the Librarians.

On the way in, we are shot at by Efret forces and the cutter is damaged. Once we meet up with the other PCs, we assess the damage and realize that we shall have to travel to the fallen city of Persepolis (the city used to be a flying city, but was crashed in the virus burn), which crash-landed on top of the manufacturing city of Derum. [SPOILERS] Which is just fine by Melodi, as her mission requires her exploring both cities. How convenient that Persepolis didn’t crash into the ocean somewhere….

Lucky for us, we have the environment suits that will protect us from the crazy radiation levels…

Two things really stand out to me in reflecting on the session. The first is how much it matters where you sit. This has kind of occurred to me before, but it really became obvious in this session. First off, one should always sit next to one’s allies. It makes it much easier to scheme quietly. We actually had people switch spots in the middle of the session so that the two planet-siders could sit next to each-other and have conversations that the rest of us couldn’t hear. On the other hand, I sat far away from the player playing Helseth. We ended up passing a lot of notes, but written communications just take longer. And that slowed down our ability to coordinate. To be fair, it shouldn’t be a problem if Helseth and Melodi can’t coordinate quickly, but they are Marines, and should have rapid, coordinated responses to a crisis.

Secondly, proximity to the GM matters. The people sitting closest to the GM are the most likely to be heard, and thus have what they want happen. Since not all the players were aggressive about being heard, Kato and Melodi kind of ran the show, simply because their players sat closest to the GM. And once I got started, it was harder than I thought to stop dominating the session. Melodi has an agenda [SPOILERS] (collect intel, keep the civs alive, get home in one piece – in that order), and she really wouldn’t futz around when appropriate action is apparent. It doesn’t help that there are two other marines with the party (one PC and one NPC), and that they are unlikely to oppose Melodi’s agenda.

Now, I thought that our GM did a good job of trying to reach out to the other players despite Kato and Melodi’s dominance, but the other players were just quieter. Partly it is the player personality. Partly it is the tone that I set by dominating the first part of the session. I think next session I will try to sit next to Helseth’s player, and away from the GM.