Game Master's Handbook

Sample Situation

Here is a one-off session that you can use to get started if you’re having trouble coming up with your own situations. This page contains the setting and the details of the situation, the threat, what supplies are available, and how things within the environment react to the threat. Using this, you can jump right in to a play session and see how your players handle the scenario.

Recommended # of Players: 3–5

Story

You are the small crew of a supply ship that has just completed the most recent run to get supplies for the asteroid colony you live on—essential supplies that the colony will not survive without. Things like food, water, spare parts, and other essentials are all boxed up and tied down in the Cargo Bay, and the crew is in hypersleep as they make their way home.

Suddenly, about 8 months into their 1 year trip home, the crew is awakened by the AI assistant on the ship, Brain of Supply Ship, or B.O.S.S. for short. Upon checking why BOSS awakened them, the crew finds that there is a disruption in the cargo bay and that there is pressure being lost.

Setting

The setting is a realistic science fiction space ship without artificial gravity comparable to the International Space Station. Technology on board is similar to modern touchscreen technology, i.e. no holograms or gesture control, but voice and touch commands are available at every door. BOSS is about as intelligent as IBM’s Watson or a very advanced smartphone personal assistant AI—it can answer questions and provide related information about the ship and control all of the ship’s systems. Bright but low-energy LED lighting lines the ceiling and floor of the main hall and circles the perimeter of each room, letting off a consistent white glow in all rooms of the ship except for the Command Module, which has dim blue lights that keep the room dark without removing all visibility.

The supply ship has 10 rooms total: at the front of the ship is the Command Module, down the center of a ship is a comfortably-wide cylindrical hallway flanked on the left and right by 5 doors plus two doors above and one below, and at the opposite end of the hallway is the Cargo Bay. Going from the Command Module and looking down the hall, the rooms on the right are the Hypersleep Chamber, the Restroom, and the Kitchen, and on the left are the Recreation Room and the Supply Room. Above is Compressor Room and the Engine Room, and below is the Airlock Chamber. See the maps below for the ship’s layout.

Details

These details are things that the crew knows about the ship and their situation:

  • Air ducts line the ceilings of all the outer rooms, which has air circulated and oxygen managed via the Compressor Room. These behave like regular air ducts and simply move air around, i.e. are not pressurized.
  • Power for the ship is provided by the Engine Room.
  • The Command Module is where BOSS is centralized.
  • Each door on the ship has a touchscreen control panel with a direct link to BOSS.
  • All of the supplies in the Cargo Bay are boxed up in cases and securely strapped to the floor so they don’t shift during zero-gravity flight.
  • The Supply Room contains most things that a nonviolent supply ship would need, eg. repair materials, odds and ends, containers, etc.
  • The Kitchen contains all the pre-packed food for the trip, enough food to feed the whole crew for about 1 month.
  • The crew does not require food while in hypersleep.
  • The Airlock Chamber seals both the door leading to the Main Level and to outer space and needs to be pressurized/depressurized appropriately before opening.
  • It will take 2 more months to get back to the colony.
  • The crew and their cargo are the only thing standing between their friends and family and certain death.

Setup

Allow your players to create their characters and have them each choose a role: Pilot, Engineer, Technician, Manager, or Medic.

In this situation, nobody has pockets and instead is given a special item that only they can use. Everyone is wearing the same style of jumpsuit, but players can choose what color the jumpsuit is if they want. Beyond the provided stats and special items, the characters’ names, appearances, personalities, and backstories are entirely up to your players. Encourage them to flesh out their characters a bit.

Pilot

The Pilot interfaces directly with BOSS in the Command Module. If there’s anything wrong on the ship, the Pilot knows how to get the information from BOSS.

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Item: Command Module Key
A rod approximately 2 feet long that plugs into a pedestal in the command module. Holds a charge that can be discharged once in the form of a stunning short-range arc of electricity before needing to be recharged.

Engineer

The Engineer manages the hardware and machinery of the ship. If it’s physically broken, it’s the Engineer’s job to fix it.

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Item: Universal Multitool
A device shaped like a drill that can be adjusted into any number of tools that a ship could need.

Technician

The Technician manages the software of the ship and can override and customize BOSS as needed. If the computer controls it, the Technician can tweak it.

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Item: Digipad
A roughly brick-shaped device with a touch screen, pop-out mini keyboard, and a universal cable for connecting to modern devices. Can be used to interface with the ship’s software directly, bypassing BOSS, if given enough time.

Manager

The Manager is in charge of the supply run operation and has access to all the knowledge available about the planet you just visited. It’s the Manager’s job to keep everyone cooperative.

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Item: Datadex
A rugged tablet computer that contains all known information about the planet the crew just got their supplies from.

Medic

The Medic is in charge of keeping everyone healthy. If someone’s hurt, the Medic knows how to help.

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Item: Medpod
A toolbox-shaped device with a fabricator inside that can provide medicines, bandages, and common chemical compounds.

Information for the GM

Here is the information about the scenario that only the GM should know at first.

The Situation

The reason BOSS woke up the crew is because a tiny creature had hitched a ride on some of the exotic fruit they were transporting. (The exotic fruit is not a common part of the supply run, but the colony wanted something special this year.) The creature ate through the packaging of the fruit, through the crate, and its momentum carried it to the far back wall of the Cargo Bay, where it ate partially into the wall before pushing itself off through the thin metal of the air ducts. The creature is now slowly bouncing around the ship through the air ducts, looking for more food.

When the crew enters the Cargo Bay, they will find that the pressure has stabilized enough to enter, but the panel at the door reveals that it is still losing oxygen at a fast rate and that the pressure is much lower than it should be. If the crew investigates the Cargo Bay, they will see a hole in the bottom of one of the crates to the left of the door about the size of a lime and a hole in the air duct the size of a grapefruit. If they investigate thoroughly enough, they will notice one or several of these things:

  • Air is flowing slightly toward the back of crates up against the far wall of the Cargo Bay
  • The crates up against the back wall are not where they should be—their restraints are loose and the crates are off their floor marks.

If the crew tries to move the crates, they will find them stuck fast against the wall: when the pink creature pushed off the wall, it ate an orange-sized hole partially into the wall. The hole is deep enough that the layered structure of the ship’s hull is partially exposed to the vacuum of space, causing the low pressure and air loss. The crates were pulled from their position by the pressure change, and are now imperfectly blocking the hole. If left unchecked, the hole will expand from the pressure, and given enough time, cargo will be lost.

The Creature

The creature is small, smooth, and pink, a ball-shaped single-celled organism that grows as it consumes. It started out the size of a tick, but it was the size of a lime by the time it emerged from the crate and the size of a grapefruit when it entered the air ducts. It has a mouth-like cavity that it can open on any part of its body to reveal a clear, shiny-looking substance that is unbelievably corrosive; it immediately dissolves any material on contact without spreading or dripping. It avoids consuming unless it needs to move through something or it finds food. It can only open one mouth cavity at a time, but it can open it as wide as 180 degrees, i.e. half its body.

The creature navigates by sensing light, vibrations, and temperature; it will avoid light unless vibrations in the air and temperatures indicate that there may be food nearby. It is not used to moving in zero gravity, and thus can only change direction when it reaches a wall. It can be killed, but the manner in which it is done is very important to consider: if killed by impact or incision, it will spread its corrosive fluid and do lots of damage when splashing around. That being said, the creature is very resilient and flexible (i.e. rubbery) in addition to being able to open its mouth cavity anywhere on its body at any time.

The creature is not native to the planet the supply ship is returning from, but it is not rare—it occasionally appears on exotic fruit shipped to the planet. There is a short entry in the Manager’s Datadex about it that describes its appearance and abilities but it does not provide any information about how to handle it nor what to do should you encounter it.

The Game

You will decide where the creature emerges from the air duct and how it moves around the ship. At that point, you need to show the creature eating through something so your players can see that it does not lose momentum when trying to eat. If you’d like help deciding where it emerges, number the main rooms (not the Command Module or the Cargo Bay) 1 through 5 and roll a die. The number you roll is the either room where the creature emerges or the door it is heading toward from the hallway. If you roll 6, roll again.

You will also use BOSS’s voice and alerts to warn players where breaches may occur so they’re not lost when looking for the creature. The Manger’s Datadex does provide piecemeal information about how to handle certain things the creature can do, eg. the type of acid it produces cannot eat through glass, etc., but it’s up to your players to think about searching for this information.

Win Conditions

Your players need to figure out how to meet the following win conditions. It’s your choice whether you want to communicate these win conditions explicitly or whether you want your players to try to figure them out based on the circumstances laid out for them:

  • The crew is able to prevent loss of oxygen and cargo.
  • The crew is able to prevent the creature from being a problem for the rest of the trip.
  • The crew is able to maintain their food supply for the trip.
  • The ship is able to continue its trip as close to on schedule as possible.

If any of these win conditions are not met, your players will need to either work out some way to make up for the loss or accept defeat for things that cannot be made up for.

Other Notes

  • The Recreation Room is your wild card room. You can have it contain treadmills or TV screens or whatever you like. It is the least consequential room.
  • The Supply Room contains just about anything your players might want or need in the moment, within reason.
  • The appearance of the Command Module can be just about whatever you’d like. Whether it’s got a nice window for viewing space or it’s full of screens that display BOSS in a similar way to the MCP in Tron, it’s up to you!
  • Try to keep the pressure up—if there’s a lull, then it’s time to have the creature cause some problems.

Maps

1 Square ≈ 3 Feet

←Front of Ship⤙ 🚀 ⤚Back of Ship→

Ship Main Level Map

Main Level

Clockwise from the left: Command Module, Recreation Room, Supply Room, Cargo Bay, Kitchen, Restroom, Hypersleep Chamber


Ship Upper Level Map

Upper Level

Left to right: Compressor Room, Engine Room


Ship Lower Level Map

Lower Level

Airlock Chamber


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LAST UPDATED: April 30, 2019
  • Add extra help for assigning and interpreting rolls
  • Add section explaining how to award Experience Points
  • Add small section pointing to Combat