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Pen & Paper Roleplaying Central => Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion => Topic started by: Lynn on September 09, 2020, 01:05:52 PM

Title: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Lynn on September 09, 2020, 01:05:52 PM
My players have expressed a lot of interesting in playing in a Hostile campaign ( https://www.paulelliottbooks.com/hostile.html )
 (https://www.paulelliottbooks.com/hostile.html)
These are all older, experienced players, but as far as I know, none have played Traveller before (and I haven't touched Traveller since the "Classic" original box era). The grittiness of this setting and that they are all fans of the Alien / Aliens movies is what turned them on to the idea. Anyone have any advice, wisdom or warnings?
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Heavy Josh on September 09, 2020, 01:13:38 PM
My players have expressed a lot of interesting in playing in a Hostile campaign ( https://www.paulelliottbooks.com/hostile.html )
 (https://www.paulelliottbooks.com/hostile.html)
These are all older, experienced players, but as far as I know, none have played Traveller before (and I haven't touched Traveller since the "Classic" original box era). The grittiness of this setting and that they are all fans of the Alien / Aliens movies is what turned them on to the idea. Anyone have any advice, wisdom or warnings?



My main issue with running CE games out of the box is that I have to massage the subsystems to work for me as GM. Hostile is pretty good in that all the setting background really helps understand what the subsystems are supposed to do, but it might pay to run a preliminary adventure, or at least do some basic stuff on your own before the game starts and you're there in front of the players trying to figure out how computers work in the game mechanics (for example).
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Dave R on September 09, 2020, 06:56:12 PM
Haven't read Hostile, can't help you there. I can address the rules side.


Learn, teach and embrace the skill system and especially the rules on task chains early. This is central to the whole system.


Set a limit on the number of terms in character creation, so PCs are all roughly in the same ballpark. OR you can rely on death in char-gen as a balancing mechanism, but that really only works if everyone's rolling completely honestly in person so they have to stop while they can. As soon as someone nudges a die, or the GM has mercy and lets "death" mean stop rolling and play the character, you end up with the stereotypical geriatric admiral with all the skills alongside more reasonable characters.


Run a trial combat before it counts. Traveller combat can be deadly - not quite as deadly as it's sometimes made out to be, since if you win, or even lose in civilized country, you may be able to be patched up. But still more deadly than D&D.

Speaking of which, when you say "older, experienced players" - what system(s)? I've had better luck teaching Trav to brand new players than I have to players who've only played D&D. It's just... different. Your optimal moves are different, your attitude in combat has to be different, your reflexes are different. People who try to play it like D&D in space get very frustrated.


House rules to consider - the book modifier for unskilled checks is -3. I ran that out of the box my first time out and I didn't like how it discouraged players from even trying unless they had to. Next time out I'm using either a -1 (Stars Without Number does this) or a - equal to each character's highest skill rank (abstract, but works at a meta-game level).


I've also tried rolling initiative in combat only once at the start, and having the various dodge/react penalties change your count until the end of combat instead of end of round. I really liked that one but only got to see it a couple of times.
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: jeff37923 on September 10, 2020, 06:13:31 PM
Rewatch the movies that inspired the setting. Get a solid handle on the setting genre and go from there.
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Shawn Driscoll on September 10, 2020, 10:28:53 PM
My players have expressed a lot of interesting in playing in a Hostile campaign ( https://www.paulelliottbooks.com/hostile.html )
 (https://www.paulelliottbooks.com/hostile.html)
These are all older, experienced players, but as far as I know, none have played Traveller before (and I haven't touched Traveller since the "Classic" original box era). The grittiness of this setting and that they are all fans of the Alien / Aliens movies is what turned them on to the idea. Anyone have any advice, wisdom or warnings?


Use Mothership RPG instead.
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Lynn on September 11, 2020, 12:53:06 PM
Speaking of which, when you say "older, experienced players" - what system(s)? I've had better luck teaching Trav to brand new players than I have to players who've only played D&D. It's just... different. Your optimal moves are different, your attitude in combat has to be different, your reflexes are different. People who try to play it like D&D in space get very frustrated.
Everyone is 50 or older, decades of gaming. But most have played D&D the most, with GURPs, MERP, Champions, DCC RPG and the more obscure (Skyrealms of Jorune, Paranoia, etc).
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Lynn on September 11, 2020, 12:56:27 PM
Use Mothership RPG instead.
It is a possible alternative - in fact, have ordered the print copies of it via the latest Kickstarter. It seems a lot of the content is thematically close enough to Hostile that much of the adventure materials could be used with Hostile (or for that matter, Hostile as a framework universe for Mothership). We are having a 'pre-zero session' on Sunday to decide, but I am a bit more pro Mothership for this reason.
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Heavy Josh on September 13, 2020, 11:52:29 PM

It is a possible alternative - in fact, have ordered the print copies of it via the latest Kickstarter. It seems a lot of the content is thematically close enough to Hostile that much of the adventure materials could be used with Hostile (or for that matter, Hostile as a framework universe for Mothership). We are having a 'pre-zero session' on Sunday to decide, but I am a bit more pro Mothership for this reason.


Mothership is super cool. I've used stuff from Pound of Flesh for some serious horror in my Stars Without Number game recently. Was disturbing!  Fun!


But basically, if you like Hostile, use Mothership and its supplements for adventure fodder in Hostile. It's not quite system neutral, but the ideas are easy to lift.
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Kyle Aaron on September 14, 2020, 09:31:53 PM
Yes: don't an an Alien scenario. Just don't. That shit is overdone.
Title: Re: Any advice or wisdom for running a Hostile Campaign (Cepheus Engine)?
Post by: Shawn Driscoll on September 16, 2020, 10:08:19 PM
That shit is overdone.
How so?