Thursday, August 3, 2023

Seeking the Wisdom of My Readers (complete version!)

The Intrepid was created by taking starship images
From No Man's Sky (©️2017 Hello Games)
And feeding them into Stable Diffusion to
Create retro-80s Scifi graphics 

Blogger's Brain Broke!

When it hit publish last night, blogger spazzed and  deleted an hour's worth of writing and editing! I wasn't aware that only 1/3 of the article was up when I went to bed at 1:00am.

Mea culpa, readers.

Let's try this again....

In my last blog post I mentioned a solo game I was playing and a PC who I couldn't seem to kill.

The project, tentatively named Starfarer, has been a great escape during a time of great uncertainty and stress in my life. 

My original intention for Starfarer was that it would be a No Man's Sky inspired SciFi adventure using the Mythic GME, Star Adventurer, and Alone Among the Stars that I would eventually turn into a solo gaming podcast in the vein of Tale of the Manticore. 

I never intended the game to tell the story of one character.  If anything, I was hoping for the Ship and its mission to be the Stars.

Like the podcasts that helped inspire my solo experiment,  I intended that "no character [would] be sacred, and no character [would] be spared if the dice decide their fate is ay hand."

But The Game Had Other Ideas...

Portrait of Molly created Using Stable Diffusion 
Vis the Imagine App. In Manga style.
One character,  Molly Hyaline,  often got out of situations by the skin of her teeth, surviving most - or all - of the crew, and often the ship. She ended up in conflict with a secret society,  with a price on her head, an experimental ship, unique brain damage that made her almost a null space to psionics, a serial killer stalker, and the enmity of an evil entity of pure thought.

She saved lives, exposed secrets, banished tulpas, destroyed dangerous drugs, prevented nightmare plagues... she struggled with pain and loss. She even fell in love.

For several voyages, Molly's troubles and Molly's agenda drove the campaign.  New characters came and went with alarming speed, only barely able to establish their motives before they were being buried in shallow graves on remote planets. 

With everyone else barely able to establish a personality, Molly became the star of my game inspired of my attentions. Often in spite of my attempts to build other PCs up.

And Then...

The last moments of Molly Hyaline before 
The Intre5was destroyed.  Created
Using Unstable Diffusion. 
The first encounter of my fourth voyage has the Intrepid and Aurora,  Molly's two small vessels fly into the space of a new banana republic with a deeply corrupt naval commander. When Molly would not be robbed, she ended up in a desperate battle against a warship. An errant blast from a laser cannon,- and an unfortunate roll on the crit table - and Molly was vaporized. Along with my only other PC to stay for multiple adventures,  Braki.

It was a hard death, too. Molly had a torn spacesuit, a broken eyesocket and a concussion from  injuries she sustained when the ship's cockpit was hit. It was painful to watch unfold.

The Aurora escaped with two survivors: Austin and Velle NX-8. 

The Survivors

Austin was in love with Molly, but he had no skin in the game; he was not there to see what the murderous Qath Research Combine has done to her previous crews. He was just a down-and-out veteran starfighter pilot trying to get out from under a crushing debt. He helped her rescue a friend in need in return for helping him. Austin has no reason to get involved in Molly's crusade now that there's no Molly. 

Braki Skiee left after one adventure,  but was
sucked back in after he was abducted 
from his cloister. He was an adorable 
Little genocidal maniac.
Velle NX-8 is a new recruit. This was literally her second day with the crew and her first encounter.  She hasn't even been read in on the whole situation, and after this terrifying experience,  might not be so keen to intercept the illegal prison ship that they were speeding after, when it's course might be discreetly transferred to the right people.

  • When Molly perished, I used Mythic to investigate how her grandest actions impacted the setting, and found that even if I forced my PCs to follow in Molly's steps, which would feel wrong, they would find little to do. 
  • The murderous and shadowy Qath Research Combine that sent Molly and her original crew to her death have lost their secrecy, lost their monopoly on an ancient godlike civilizations tech, and had their illegal use of AI weapons tech exposed to the public.
  • Molly's space pirate nemesis was killed for appearing to steal money from Qath, thanks to the creative embezzlement of an NPC ally.
  • The hateful psionic entity whose cult she devastated has lost much of its grip on her followers, their faith in its omnipotence an malice broken.
  • The petty dictatorship that murdered her, in blowing her up, scattered 40 tonnes of antimatter with damaged containment across their system, punching holes in their defenses and irradiation much of their clean water and minerals, leaving them vulnerable to pirate activity and eventual deposits by the Alliance.
  • The burgeoning trade in illegal AI interceptors was set back by her disseminating a computer virus used to sabotage its most common software.
  • The crime lord patron that Austin and Molly did a job for used this change in the  lack market to rebuild his crumbling syndicate.
  • The madman hunting Molly has no interest in aliens or men.

Austin is riddled with cybernetics from
the cavalier way his life and body were treated
as a starfighter pilot for the ADF. He
has no desire to go to war. Image made w/
Stable Diffusion via the Imagine App. 
Molly was hoping to escape her problems and just cruise the stars once the Qath Combine was exposed and lost their last big resources, their final criminal act of experimenting on sapient and slavery exposed. She was almost there.

Austin and Velle in a damaged starship, no sense of purpose, and no big goal. Without the Intrepid's firepower, they can't hope to take out the prison ship, and by the time they recruit new crew and get out of space dock, it will have moved its captives to a fortified space platform.

Austin is a peaceful man. He saw a lifetime of blood and death in the Alliance space navy. And the corrupt Colonel who tried to rob and kill them died when his Frigate flew headlong into a cluster of leaking antimatter containers.

The campaign is a complete blank all of the sun den. 

So Where Do I Go From Here?

So here's the problem.  This had become Molly's story thanks to the dice. It never had a chance to tell another story. As podcast, this would be a pretty jarring moment: Molly killed horribly and senselessly  in a random encounter,  and the reset button pushed on the campaign.

Molly kisses a surprised Austin (v.1) after he
saves her life, and Braki's when he could
have cut and run with half a million credits.
Stable Diffusion via Imagine.
And, to be honest,  it was depressing to me to see her go after so much time in her head and rooting for her. But no plot armor here... this is Old School.

And maybe the Old School audience might enjoy this pure OSR moment for what it is and appreciate the integrity of the game?

I could just start something fresh. Try again. I could leave it with Austin making a memorial for Molly in a spot whose alien beauty moved her to tears. And say Starfarer turned into an outer space Robin Hood story, complete with tragic ending.

And if I did, would this still be worth podcasting as the first "season" of something?

I coul carry on from this natural reset and see if fate makes Austin and Velle NX-8 stay together and gives them a purpose. To explore my Starfarer setting with fresh eyes.

I am at a loss, and would love to hear what you think.

Blogging, being my favored medium for everything,  I have my notes and parts of scripts in a separate blogger site for the interested. It is not quite ready for the world, but who knows, maybe someone will have some ideas for me.

Taxu II... the alien citadel here cost thief Gael Ghelfi and Rogue scholar C'Alhoon
their lives. And compared to what happened to the pilot Henry, that was a mercy.
Created using Stable Diffusion via Imagine. 


  1. Replies
    1. Blogger deleted 2/3 of this article when I hit publish. No idea why. Fixed now.

  2. I don't see a question here.
    Austin might want to avenge his love's death, though.

    1. I'm afraid Blogger deleted most of the article on me, At 1:30am, I hir "publish, then poured myself into bed w/ faith what I published was what was up.

  3. Two thoughts - first you could push on with Austin and Velle a little and see if that turns into an epilogue or the first chapter of a new cycle. Don't keep grinding along if you are not feeling it.

    Second option would be to do a time-skip, drop down a generation and launch a new crew into the same corner of space, see what happens. Maybe their only connection is they grew up hearing Molly's story and set off to the stars hoping to tread in her footsteps, maybe not even that.

    1. The idea of a later generation is a great one I hadn't thought of. Thank you!

  4. The Wheel turns. One story ends, another begins. I say move on with something new.

    1. Thanks. There something to be said about a fresh start, isn't there?

  5. I'd say move on.

    Also, the AI art is definitely skewing very anime compared to some of the previous works - conscious choice or its training database showing its influence?