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To help the group build a cohesive party, as GM I decided that the group would be Xenowarden partnered. This was to help set a tone of exploration, animal cataloguing, and generally that the game is less focused on outright planetary exploitation. Sorry for the wall of text.
With 6 other players, I want to give characters each time to shine and express themselves. As the party has been exploring the early hexes, in hexes where no random encounters occur, I have been asking the players to improve and describe the unique life-forms they find. They have 4 creature boxes which they've been using to collect samples for Analysis downtime activities.
This has turned out really great, last session one of the members went off in the forest to look for breakfast and found eggs. This led to questions of the parent organism and after a short collaboration we came up with an ostrich sized bird that has been observed chasing down smaller (tiny) prey and eating it. The PC stole eggs from a nest initially which is when the encounter I'd rolled previously (juvenile lynxicoot) occurred. As a dream prophet who has been trying to use build trust, with 1 hp after the surprise attack, he was able to negotiate a peaceful withdraw while the lynxicoot ate the rest of the eggs.
Later the group found another nest and the dedicated explorer (lashunta survivalist operative with a shotalashu companion) found another nest. She watched as the parent went off to chase down some nearby prey before she filched the largest egg. When it came back she saw it notice the missing egg from the clutch and it began searching around for its lost egg.
As the session went by, I quickly grabbed a sound clip of the Jurassic Park utah raptor. During the watch that night, the explorer and the entomologist spathinae were on watch and noticed that the same bird (by this time dubbed the Weydana Condor) was checking out their camp. I'd decided that it would be highly intelligent and I wanted to give a chance for them to embrace the xenowarden objectives or see if they'd drop them entirely. The entomologist fired a tranq dart and it ran off. During the next watch 4 roamed the edges and at one point one tried to distract the single 3rd shift watch while another tried to sneak into camp but on being seen it fled.
The dream prophet I've been trying to do dream sequences, so the players on hearing the description of where he woke up thought he'd wandered off in the night. I described a nesting ground built into the side of a rock cliff with him in the center of the bowl, and a condor that walked up scratched at the dirt, looked at the dirt, and then at him before he woke up. He then proceeded to implore on the group that they should be living with nature here and to not make their early acts so disruptive to the local environment. Early in the session he had made a comment about nature not being malicious, which he called back to and said that nature will however defend itself.
The group has now split with half rushing back to base after having heard a klaxon go off during the morning check in call from Balco (another thing I've been doing to foreshadow drama with Deidrik) while the rest return the eggs and take downtime activity to study these birds.
Here's the link to the sound effect for anyone interested. I use Voicemod to GM. The soundboard feature is very useful for quickly adding in small effects.
The players were completely caught off guard the first time I piped that into the game, all conversation stopped and after they processed it, several players asked if Utah Raptors were native to Weydana XD
|Hilary Moon Murphy Contributor|
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I offered small "signing bonuses" for each grouping:
SF Society - Infosphere access
Abadar - 10% discount on items below or at ilvl 5
Zenniledie Labs - free wyrmling gland implants
Xenowardens - discounted animal companion training
Veskarium - start with Defenses upgrade
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My own group decided on their own that they wanted to be representatives of the Veskarium. A Vesk, a Pahtra, a Goblin and a Lashunta, all outcasts from the Veskarium starting a new life on a disposable colony world, half-expected to fail.