“REPATRIATION” – Scene I

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The adventure begins with 2*Players Threat.

The high profile diplomatic nature of the mission, and the morale of Starfleet are at stake.  The following Mission Directives are in Play:

  • What you Do reflects on All of Starfleet
  • None Left Behind

The rendezvous with the Klingon emissary takes place just at the threshold of the Klingon/Federation border, amid the fringes of a nebula.  Wisps of purple, cerulean, and pink gas fly about the void.  Konath, the Klingon emissary, intends this location to interject drama and bombast into his arrival.

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Begin the scene on the bridge.  The Player’s ship is approaching the designated rendezvous  at the appropriate time–but there is no sign of the Klingons.  The Chief Medical Officer, Engineer, and Counselor might be present as it is a momentous occasion.

If there are any particularly bellicose or dovelike individuals among the PCs, propose an  appropriate value complication (as +difficulty) associated with peaceful (or hostile) tasks.  Regardless, provide 2 NPC crew to man the Helm and Communications stations if no PCs are in the chair.  coldwar.pngIf you wish, treat this portion of the scene as a timed (gated) challenge “behind the screen.”  Don’t show the players the interval track but do keep track of it, and perhaps prompt Momentum spends to reduce the time taken.  (6 Intervals; when the last of the intervals expire add two to threat)

Regardless of if the scene is treated formally as a timed challenge, the logical order is:

  • Scan for the Klingons.  Have we missed anything?
    • OR Reassure the Crew that the Klingons will arrive in due time.  (if neither of these is achieved, add 1 Threat to represent the apprehension.  Call out the “Cold Wartime” Situational complication.
  • The Klingons arrive.  If the players attempt their own “Dramatic Entrance,” this is an opposed task.  Otherwise, treat it as a difficulty 2 task to create a complication on the Player’s ship.  (see below).
  • Contact is established with the Voth’Drang. (open hailing frequencies; respond to hail.)  Allow both of these tasks to generate threat and momentum.Comms-Respond to Hail.png

If the players scan ahead along their course to the rendezvous, Apply +2 difficulty to Sensor sweep, and (at your discretion) up to +2 complication range from the emission nebula clogging up the sensor panel’s receptors and messing with the ship’s acuity.  Positional or orientation sensors could be affected by these complications, adding +difficulty to Conn tasks.  A successful sensor sweep will reveal the presence of a vessel approaching through the dense part of the nebula.  (Obtain Information will be neccessary to positively identify it as the Klingons, but basic success will reassure any anxieties)

Failure Note: Failure at the Scanning/Comforting segment of this task will add a trait to the scene: “Tensions Running High” which should add difficulty only to actions to Inactive Supporting Characters and NPCs (note this may raise difficulty to above 1, and thus inactive SCs won’t be able to do it without a Direct task or an advantage), and will increase the complication range on the Ship die by +1 representing errors made belowdecks by anxious crewmen and ensigns.

Success at cost: Feel free to offer success at cost as a complication “fumbling at the controls,” which Konath may call out in the second half of the scene as he mentions the conduct of the ship and “whoever was at that station must have been fumbling to do his duty…”  Feel free to skip the complication and instead add 2 to threat for Success at cost, if accepted.

The Captain, XO, or Flight controller may wish to make a dramatic and ship-shape entrance.   This is already Konath’s plan.

If the players wish to make “polished coppers and holystoned decks” entrance, this is a Presence+Conn test, with applicable assists from those knowledgeable in Klingon culture or ‘diplomatic form.  The difficulty of player’s test will be 1, BUT you might escalate the complication range by 1, especially if the players resort to bringing the ship to full battle readiness.  Use complications to create issues with NPC crewmen anxious on their trigger finger.

If the players attempt their own dramatic entrance, treat this as an opposed task between the Flight Controllers aboard each vessel: Difficulty 1 for the Player’s ship, and Difficulty 0 (from the nebula’s drama–this could be negated by an advantage created by scans.) for Kolath’s vessel, the IKS Voth’Drang.  Konath’s vessel, however, has been traveling through the nebula for a protracted period, and will suffer 18-20 Complication range as it won’t have recovered from the wear on ship’s systems.  You should either waive these complications by spending 2 threat (the Klingon’s gambit was less intimidating) or applying them to the Klingon’s attempt to hail.

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The Azure Nebula is a set of Zone(s) that the IKS Voth’Drang is approaching from.  Treat the Nebula as Class II Nebula per p. 154 of the rulebook, increasing complication range by 2 (18-20) for tasks involving a Ship’s Sensors, Weapons, or engines.

If unopposed, Konath’s intimidating entrance will be a task (D2, by the crew of the D7) to create an advantage relevant to his social tests moving forward in the scene–he’s a wildcard and this courtesy to the Federation is a formality and a nuisance to him–but his ego is happily sated by the bombast of the occasion.  I call this advantage/trait “Bigly.”

 

 

 

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Art (probably) by David Metlestis–I can’t remember whose render I used to make the token–apologies–if yours, let me know.

Finally, contact can be established with the Voth’Drang.  If using proper Starship Combat rounds, move the Klingons by Impulse into the same zone as the Player’s ship before hailing.  If the Voth’Drang’s communications systems are suffering complications (suffered during the Helm task), spend threat to create a complication or problem (momentary) to increase the players’ difficulty to respond to the hail.

This ballet is a test of nerves–both for the players and the characte

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Credit: From Star Trek Phase II: “Kitumba”

rs.  Don’t be surprised–indeed, be happy–if values are challenged as this unfolds.  The Determination will be valuable later in the adventure.

 

When the ballet ends and the Captains are face-to-face, it’s not Konath, but instead his wife B’enar, that the players will see through the main viewer.

 

This is the IKS Voth’Drang.  Prepare to receive our emissary aboard your vessel; we are lowering shields now.”  B’Enar is familiar with her husband’s plan–to seize the initiative in this diplomacy and to gain as much honor and respect as possible from a day vacant of bloodshed.  She is unwilling to converse further (per the social conflict mechanic) and will require inducement to consider further talk (evidence, negotiation).  If the players agree to the transport, allow the scene to flow from the bridge to the transporter room for a reception.  Note that unless one of the player characters is Chief of Security, a Security team is an Advantage that can be called up like equipment, at an Opportunity cost of 1.  The security team WILL count as an advantage in any social tests in the transporter room at first meeting.

During the turbo-lift ride to the Transporter room, or the walk-and-talk through the corridor, consider inserting a short exchange with the ship’s cook or a yeoman about considerations of hospitality.  This is the moment to consider furnishing the Klingons with fresh game or seafood (likely from biological study labs).  Requisitioning this from ship’s stores and ensuring adequate quarters is a Difficulty 1 task, which a crewmember can perform themselves, or create an Advantage so that an NPC or Inactive SC character can complete it.

SCENE BOOKMARK – AFTER THE TRANSPORT

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Credit: Phase II: “Kitumba”

(Treat the transport as a Difficulty 0 task, with roll waived – the Klingon’s cooperation & the reduced difficulty from transport at the Transporter Room Console will reduce it to 0)

Konath, for all his bluster, believed fervently in a strict and rules-heavy version of Klingon Honor.  there is a right and a wrong to every action in his book, and Dishonorable and Honorable individuals are made by the cumulative presence and action they present as they go about their life.  That’s Konath’s Value: “In a man’s conduct lies the Soul of his Honor.”

Konath will linger on the Transporter pad, arriving with two aides.  He won’t introduce himself and will hold the dais, in silence, waiting for the players to break the ice and make the first move.  Let this go on as long as you like, but feel free to add TWO threat to the pool rather than the usual 1 for inaction, representing the Cold Wartime Trait in action.  Increase this to THREE if Konath successfully created his “Bigly” advantage from the dramatic entrance.  (keep in mind–you don’t have to discuss all this abstraction at the table, if it will break the flow of play–just let it inform your GMing. (See KONATH’s NPC WRITEUP, below)

The characters may choose several methods to “Get acquianted” with Konath while learning as many of the facts of the USS Vostok’s foundering.  Possible locations for the rest of this scene may include:

  • As a reception Dinner – in Captain’s Quarters, or more public in the officer’s mess.
  • As a conference
  • As a walk-and-talk to Konath’s quarters.

    Gagh_Malibu_Comics
    A bowl of Gagh. (credit: Malibu Comics)

Konath is receptive to any proposed meeting location by the PCs, but is on watch for any “dishonorable/Honorless” conduct that might allow him to stonewall the Players.  Konath will be forthcoming with individual facts on a per-question basis, as requested until one of the following “insults” is proferred, at which point he will cease to volunteer information (See WHAT THE KLINGONS KNOW, below)

See SOCIAL CONFLICT WITH KONATH for advice about handling situations once Konath has “shut down” (which is likely)

“Insults” that will shut Konath down.

  • Inadequate hospitality, or the impression of inadequate hospitality (lack of food or quarters ready for Konath and his Aides)
  • A lack of trust in his Parole – undue restrictions on the movement of Konath and his Aides.  Konath will tolerate an “honor gaurd” as an escort if it is a high-ranking officer (at least Lt. Grade, created as a Supporting Character) or someone specialized in hospitality, like a yeoman, but will shirk a bodyguard or a security team as not befitting his place.
  • Thoughtless Hospitality – No attempt made at all to cater to Klingon tastes – fresh game or fresh seafood are a must.  Aboard a TOS-Era vessel, this is unlikely without a “make it so” spend of determination at this point, unless consideration was made eariler (see above).

    MakeitSo1

  • Weakness: Konath may make veiled remarks about weakness, lack of cunning, or ‘less evolved species’ with reference to the crew; if these insults aren’t challenged by the insulted crewmember or their superior, then Konath will determine that both the crewmember and any ranking officers present are ‘weak.’ (because defending your vassals is honorable, after all…).  Task failures or complications from success at cost during the initial meeting of the ships (above) are sure to be called out.

In clinical game terms, any of these situations will tag the PCs with a personal trait “without honor,” which is transitive to their superiors being “without honor” as they allow their underlings to conduct themselves without honor.  This is then transitive to the whole crew as they allow themselves to be led by a commander that is “without honor.”

(Note that not all Klingons are so litigious with their honor, especially in the TOS Era.)

During this portion of the scene, It is assumed the PC’s goal is to discover as much about the fate of the Vostok as possible; if they made adequate preparation earlier, or created their own ‘grand entrance’ advantage, there’s nothing wrong with justly rewarding them with information from WHAT THE KLINGONS KNOW, below.

If Konath does, ‘Clam up,’ however, refer to the SOCIAL CONFLICT WITH KONATH section for guidance.

KONATH AND HIS AIDES: NPC NOTES

Konath: Use the stats for Moq’Var, Son of Koloth from the STA Rulebook, Pg. 319, with the following substitutions:

  • Replace Values with
    • “In a man’s conduct lies the Soul of his Honor”
    • “It is a Good Day to Die”
  • Command 04, Security 03
  • Replace Focuses with Diplomacy, Ridicule, Hand-to-Hand Combat, Starship Tactics
  • TOS-Era Klingons don’t wear armor (resist 0)

Aides: use the Klingon Warrior Minor NPC’s. (pg. 317)

B’Enar: use the Klingon Veteran (pg. 318) with the following substitutions:

  • Value: “Without Sharp Weapons, Honor is impossible”
  • Disciplines: Command 2, Security 2, Science 1, Conn 2, Engineering 3, Medicine 0
  • Focuses: Shipboard Tactical Systems, Damage Control

The IKS Voth’Drang: Use the Stats for the D7, unless in the TNG or later timeframe, instead using the Vor’Cha class.

WHAT THE KLINGONS KNOW

Each of these entries is provided with ample hint to how Konath and the Klingons percieve each of these facts.  Feel free to include or leave out the cutting jabs as you see fit.

  • The USS Vostok was clearly on a stealthy mission of infiltration when it foundered within the Azure Nebula.  Only those without honor or Peta’Q accept such missions. (Konath will enter the coordinates into a PADD)
  • The Vostok was irradiated and her crew absent.  Only those without honor would abandon their vessel.
  • The Vostok had been repurposed by lowly (pacifistic) aliens that were now living within it when the Klingons arrived.
  • Records from the period of warfare with the Federation show that a scoutship was conducting signals intelligence near Praxis, but patrol vessels never located the cowardly craft (assumed to be the Vostok)
  • The aliens in possession of the Vostok were the Pentarians, a non-humanoid species that inhabits “cold worlds” with atmospheres of Ammonia and Methane.
  • (this will only be volunteered if the PCs are considered “Honorable”) Several Klingon warriors perished in a boarding action with the Pentarians and their remains lie aboard.  (Their weapons and Heilooms, however, could be returned to Konath–which would not go unnoticed (a Difficulty 2 observation about Klingon Culture).

SOCIAL CONFLICT WITH KONATH

Shorter versions of this rubric will appear during later scenes, as many actions by the PCs and their ship are likely to raise the ire of both Konath and the Empire.   Remember that the point of this scene is to roleplay and experience some of the skilled diplomacy that makes so many encounters with Star Trek adversaries so satisfying.  Don’t get caught up in making everything into a roll if that isn’t your group’s style, don’t get caught up in keeping meticulous track of the traits if that isn’t your style, but also don’t flounder and flubber with in-character dialogue and roleplay endlessly if that isn’t your group’s style.

(Refer to pages 164-168 of the Rulebook where the Social Conflict framework is outlined)

QUESTIONS: Asking different things of Konath is met with differing levels of information volunteered.  The following rubric is for if the PCs are currently “Without Honor”  In this military context, Konath views the players as a unit for considering if they are worthy of Honor or not.

  • TRIVIAL REQUESTS: What do you think of me?
    • “You are without Honor because of X inraction.”
  • EFFORT/RISKY/UNUSUAL REQUESTS:
    (Difficulty 1, escalated by +1 difficulty from “cold wartime” trait):

    • How do I prove I am honorable/ what would change your mind about us?
      • “Prove you’re worthy of Honor through strength and thoughtful conduct”
    • Where is the Vostok? (hopefully, at least this is resolved before Konath concludes the PCs are “without Honor,” however the “Cold Wartime” trait establishes this as a diplomatic obligation (-1 Difficulty), and thus a base D0.
      • See “WHAT THE KLINGONS KNOW,” above.
  • Contrary to Normal Activities (refused automatically):
    • any special assistance or accommodation by the Voth’Drang or the Empire, beyond passage directly to the Vostok, and back to the Federation Border
    • Any further information from “WHAT THE KLINGON’S KNOW.”
  • Can’t Do/Can’t provide:
    • Any data associated with original incident where Vostok was discovered by the Klingons.
      • (players must first request Konath contact High Command for these records.)  Requesting military information for foreigners without  honor is Contrary to his Normal Activities.

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CHANGING THE CIRCUMSTANCES

Essentially there are two traits that are already in play, “without Honor” and “cold wartime.”

  • Cold Wartime” makes Konath uneasy and less receptive to the requests that he will grant The “risky/unusual” requests.  There’s little to be done about this trait, besides convincing Konath that relations are headed in the right direction with the Klingon Empire.  This is a matter of presenting Evidence–presenting to Konath that providing more information and assistance is in line with already de-escalating tensions.  After all, Konath is loathe to dishonor the dictates of his superiors.

    The likelihood and difficulty the PCs can affect this trait is largely colored by which era you are playing in.

    • The evidence of declining tensions is high in the TNG- & post Narendra-III era.  (Difficulty 1) Tensions are rising during the DS9 & TOS eras.  (Difficulty 3) The baseline difficulty here is set to just after Star Trek VI, following the Khitomer Accords; likewise, the Empire has yet to make up its mind about Starfleet during the Enterprise era.  (Difficulty 2).  If affecting this trait is rolled as a task, allow the talent Defuse the Tension to add its bonus d20.

      Defuse2

  • Without Honor”  places much desired information out of reach for the player characters.  Individual PCs might be able to shake this trait with brags or anecdotes about their own exploits or experiences (a value informed by a career event is probably something to call out here, perhaps a value complication proposal to a player: “Share your story of honor.”) These anecdotes and exchanges will fleetingly let a lower-ranked PC shake the trait for long enough to ask a single question about the Vostok.
    • To completely negate this trait, once it arises, would require the PCs prove their “Strength,” likely through a contest like a sparring match with Konath (he is receptive to testing his skills with D’k Tagh against the Ushaan-Tor as a bit of ‘friendly competition.’)
      • (Note that in this case this “Strength” trait will apply to this scene only; if Konath or the PC involved suffers an un-avoided injury this will be for Naught–however, if the highest ranking officer engages in the fight, Konath will answer questions from the rest of the crew as the “Strength” trait “trickles down.”)
      • (As long as the Character manages one blow inflicting stress, grant one question; if Konath avoids an injury, he will yield the contest and answer all questions for the scene)
      • (DO spend threat to avoid injury to Konath – this perfectly reflects that for Klingons tensions cool down after a catharitic skirmish)
    • A game of brinksmanship may arise later in the mission, which–if handled well by the players–will grant an “honorable” trait that makes the “without honor” trait cease to be true.
    • If the players succeeded at the “Grand Entrance’ contest in the first half of the scene, and created their own ‘bigly’ advantage, allow it to negate “Without Honor” for the remainder of this scene (“an Uneasy Meaning”) only.stvi_changkirkdinner.png

SOCIAL TOOLS

DECEPTION: This is dangerous territory.  “What you do reflects on all of Starfleet” is a directive for the mission, and playing devil-may-care with the facts, like suggesting the federation is about to go to war with the empire at a moment’s notice (difficulty 4 for player, D1 for Konath), about to forge an alliance with the Romulans (d2 player, d1 Konath), etc. are likely to become challenges to that directive.  Deceptions are likely most effective as forms of Intimidation, as Konath judges the crew based on the actions he witnesses himself.

EVIDENCE: A strong Service record that includes conduct in battle will negate “Without Honor” on a PC, and if the Captain manages to also prove that he continues to be “strong” (resisting upstarts and not tolerating honorless conduct), then the PCs in general could acquire the “Honorable” trait, which –if retained– will make social conflict with Konath for the remainder of the mission less acute.

A tour of the ship and her readiness for battle, like the Security chief lining all the corridors from the Transporter room or from Konath’s Quarters to the reception dinner, will suffice to create the “strength” trait for the scene.  Later in the adventure, creating a “weapons lock” advantage is an example of the sort of evidence necessary for brinkmanship and a show of “strength.”

An appreciation for Klingon Culture – Opera, Weapons, Customs, and Cuisine – is also worthy of respect, and will create rapport that can reduce the difficulty of individual Persuasion Tasks, or reduce the difficulty of tasks to prove that one is “honorable” or “strong.”

In each case, for Konath, the Evidence speaks for itself.  No further demonstration or conversion into a tool for negotiation or intimidation is necessary, except for the Brinkmanship paradigm discussed in Intimidationbelow.

Intimidation: Konath doesn’t believe hollow threats.  Given the “Cold Wartime” trait, he doesn’t require a full “Vulcan Hello” (See the inagural episode of Star Trek: Discovery…) to be convinced of the Player’s earnest to violence, but he does require evidence that a PC’s threat is real.

There are three kinds of Intimidation outlined in the Star Trek Adventures rulebook: Fear, doubt, and uncertainty.   Fear of death or combat isn’t going to work on Konath: “It is a Good Day to Die” is a value of his, after all.  Fear of dishonor, fear of unimportance, and fear of loss of position are what will intimidate him.  The neccessary evidence is likely a show of earnest to contact Starfleet Command with regard to Konath’s lack of cooperation.  However, later in the adventure, as the players may go “off reservation,” this threat isn’t likely to believed.  Instead, effective threats from the players may take the form of “Perhaps we should keep this between us both, for the sake of out mutual reputation…”  More notes about how to intimidate Konath into cooperation will be provided in later scenes.

Negotiation: 

“Negotiation involves offering compensation in exchange for granting a request.”
–Star Trek Adventures Rulebook, Pg. 168

Konath is not a businessman, and isn’t interested in material wealth (“In a man’s conduct…” value).  However, recovery of the heirlooms and weapons from the Klingon corpses aboard the Vostok in Scene II is an offer of compensation, and will provisionally grant the “honorable” trait to a PC.  If the players manage to hypothesize that there are Klingon corpses aboard the Vostok and propose their return before scene II, Konath will accept the proposal, and will be receptive to an exchange (requesting further records from High Command, etc.

One alternate path of Negotiation is “We can all get this over with quickly.”  Konath dislikes the company of Peta’Q, and this offered advantage will decrease the difficulty of persuasion tasks by 1.

Additional note:

In the ensuing hours and days, routine contact with the Voth’Drang will be common.  If a player contacts Konath’s wife, B’Enar, aboard the Voth’Drang for anything outside of protocol, the breach will mean that the first evidence, deception, or intimidation necessary to continue the exchange will need to be proof that the exchange is worthy of the risk, or would create convenience for her. (she would like to be reunited with her husband).  Generally, any such exchanges will serve as additional Intimidation (a Klingon man can be intimidated by violence from his wife) or Negotiation (a less angry or happy wife).  Konath makes up his own mind about things, however, so His wife’s opinion on something will not serve as evidence on its own to change his mind about that thing.

CONCLUDING THE SCENE

Konath will poke at individual PCs beyond the captain.  Call out their species trait and position as inspiration for questions; feel free to develop each of his aides if you’d like more complexity to the encounter.  Ideally, however, your first session of “Repatriation” should also include Scene II, “Dead in Space,” where danger and adventure await aboard the Hulk of the Vostok.  

End the Scene when discussion with Konath becomes fruitless, with his retiring to quarters, or even beaming back to the Voth’Drang  if particularly incensed.  If players have achieved gotten all the questions answered and the reception has moved on to niceties, propose a toast from Konath to a swift and honorable end to this mission.

 

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