Finding Creative and Inventive Ways to Deal with Player / Players that like to use Vents and Ducts.


Advice


I have a Ysoki Operative player in my Starfinder game, and just like the rat he is, he enjoys sneaking through air ducks and the ventilation system of various places. I would like some creative ideas on how to deal with this behavior, more so to teach him that Vents are not always the smartest place to be and after to kill if the behavior becomes too much of a problem.

Couple Ideas of my own -

1. Vermin Detection Response. The AI in the Ventilation system thinks he is a pest in the vent, so it will attempt to flush him out via -liquid, poison, heat, or other means.

2. Trap Shoot Surprise. As the PC walks over a part of the vents it opens below him dropping him into a inactive heating system "furnace" The PC must find his way out through strength checks climbing back up or blast his way out where the noise with alert enemies in the area. Otherwise, he will take damage from the heat as the "furnace" slowly starts to turn on and cook him.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Why is the behavior a problem in the first place? Because he is regularly splitting the party ( since the others can't follow him )?


Starfinder Superscriber

who says all vents/ducts have to be cool or warm? Super heated/chilled air would do it. Or have that "air duct" be something poisonous.

Plus if vents are like how they are in the real world, those things will fall apart if more than a few pounds is in them, so constantly falling and taking damage should discourage it.


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Contrary to what entertainment has wanted us to think for basically ever, vents are rarely big enough to fit a humanoid. Even a small one.

If you're dealing with a station, that's likely even more true, as space is at a premium. Toss in repair bots, various types of maintenance drones, all of those possibilities...there's no reason to build utility spaces like vents or wiring runs to fit humanoids.

The easiest solution? Unless you'd like to leave that option open for a particular area...the character simply won't fit.


WIND TUNNNEEEL


Dread Moores wrote:

Contrary to what entertainment has wanted us to think for basically ever, vents are rarely big enough to fit a humanoid. Even a small one.

If you're dealing with a station, that's likely even more true, as space is at a premium. Toss in repair bots, various types of maintenance drones, all of those possibilities...there's no reason to build utility spaces like vents or wiring runs to fit humanoids.

The easiest solution? Unless you'd like to leave that option open for a particular area...the character simply won't fit.

I used to work in facilities management, and I can attest to the fact that vents and ducts are a foot or less across. Even a ysoki would be hard-pressed to squeeze through there without that ratmother thing in Pact Worlds.

At the same time, actual rats do get in those vents, and traps are not uncommon. SNAP!


Starfinder Superscriber

I think in SPACE (have to use the space voice there) that it wouldn't be snap, but zap. Full on energy zap to remove the pest. And then vent into space to get rid of the corpse.


Sensors every 15 feet.

Sovereign Court

Have an ooze cleaning the vents that he cannot see.


crawling through a vent is *very* loud. He should be spotted immediately.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The ratfolk belt (Pact Worlds 201) will let him squeeze through spaces as narrow as 7.5 inches across.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Cleaning Gelatinous Cubes that are clear in color might be an option, no one actually carries salt on them at all times in most cases.
(I actually had this happen to me once while exploring a dungeon, we expended all our salt to kill it)


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Ysoki often work in ship ducts and tight places that others can't get into as a matter of course. It's one of the reasons why they've spread so far across the Pact Worlds.

Seems that having some kind of deadly anti-pest system that couldn't be easily bypassed is, well, highly unlikely for a number of reasons. Among those, you wouldn't want to kill off your dedicated ysoki task force that is supposed to be in there. What's more, you don't put POISON or other hazardous things into your ship's ventilation. That's a surefire recipe for disaster!

So unless you're on a ship dedicated to a cult of the Devourer, I don't think you're likely to see a system like the one described.


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How to deal with this? Encourage it. This should be a standard element of every good sci-fi game. Stealth and cunning and cool technology should ALWAYS provide a significant advantage over a frontal attack.


Calybos1 wrote:
How to deal with this? Encourage it.

I'm with you here. The player has found an in-game, in-character approach to problems. It's not something that they need to be "taught a lesson" about or killed. Let players come up with creative solutions to problems, instead of approaching things in preset ways.

That being said, there's no reason some vents can't have difficulties or countermeasures. The strategy doesn't have to work all the time. Of the suggestions already made, I love the idea of small gelatinous cubes or anti-vermin foam causing the player trouble.


I'm always for unique ways of dealing with things. So I would also be on the encourage side of the equation.

However, if the problem is abuse of it, then the one thing I would say is: if he got in there, what else could be in there? I've got an air conditioning hole in my room that I'm pretty sure birds got into. Bats have gotten through the vent in our bathroom. Wonder what kind of crazy space things would get into the ducts on Absalom Station?


johnlocke90 wrote:
crawling through a vent is *very* loud. He should be spotted immediately.

Be the breeze. Just like thor the god of thunder.

Besides the noise issue, ways to make vents less attractive hiding spots is that air ducts could be inconvenient to use for a multitude of reasons.

-Vents may be made of smooth and difficult to climb materials.
-Vents may have cleaning bots in them that can't be moved around, so they get in the way and can't be moved or broken apart without making a ton of noise.
-Vents themselves are noisy to be in from the rushing air and hampers PC's perception.
-Some vents may be pressurized and adding a blockage on top of that not only would cause detectable pressure loss disturbances, but may blow the player around and slam them into walls if they lose their grip.
-Vent networks are easy to get lost in.
-(My favorite) Essential/important systems might run on a separate ventilation loop entirely, so the player only can bypass a limited amount of the structure, and must expose themselves for a bit trying to find the closed internal loop.

Also, climbing in vents may be viable for civilian or public structures, but any place that's going to be legitimately worried about a break in is going to have countermeasures set up because that's the first thing someone would think of to try and bypass their security.


I'm on the side of encouragement, as long as it doesn't disrupt the game play and force the you, the GM, to spend too much time on one player while the rest of the group sits around playing with their phones or seeing how many 20s they can roll (or shots they can take, in the case of my group...) in a row while they wait. When that happens, it's to be discouraged...

In the case of needing to prevent it:

* Security alarms aren't bad, but could end up breaking your adventure depending on how you've planning the story.

* Breaking/falling. The vent material itself gives way, etc. Hope the guards didn't hear that!

* No vents in this ship... dang don't-need-to-breath andriod pirates!

* Magic. (GM speak for "don't do that!")

If you can accommodate your players, you should - it's all about them having fun. But if it's disrupting the game for everyone else, you need to put a stop to it. Perhaps speaking with that player out of game would actually be more effective than trying to compete with your player's character?

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