Gaming Chronicles: PlanetFall

(When last we spoke, we talked about the very first campaign I took part in The Frozen Star Among Us. Today I will be continuing the series chronicling the games I have taken part in so that I can remember them.)

When the Frozen Star ended, I had been playing with the group for months and I had started to figure out the dynamics of this tabletop roleplaying game thing. I felt like I was slowly making friends with the group and I was gaining courage with my choices. When we decided to move to the next campaign, I knew that I had to do better. My earlier characters felt more like cardboard cutouts than actual characters. I looked back at what they were and realized that they barely wanted anything beyond “to save the day”. I needed to reach back to the brief training I had in acting. It would help me focus on what my character wanted at the moment and also overall.

The new campaign was helmed by a different Game Master. This gamemaster had been a player who had previously pushed me to do better in my disastrous first character. I had thought that he did not like me but I now know that I was projecting my fears. But back then I was nervous to start a new campaign with him in charge. This new campaign was another science-fiction story. It was about people who lived on space stations who did not conform to society and were banished to an alien planet as a prison colony. This was immediately an exciting idea. My character would have a life before and after his fall from grace.

I started to try and figure out who I was going to be. I started with how my character fit into the society on the space station which would also shape his role among the other player characters. The background information we had been given had mentioned that the planet was littered with alien technology. I thought I could be useful as a repairman, a guy who worked in an appliance repair shop and fixed things people brought him. This was later shifted to being an engineering worker as our world changed and we reimagined the space station a little bit. So what was the fatal flaw that got my character banished? I knew that he was a good guy. To support his family, he had started to fight in an underground fighting club and he had been arrested when it was raided.

Later, as we played more and I thought about it more, I came up with more of the backstory. He and his sister had been orphaned when their parents died of a drug overdose. He was the only one captured in the raid because he lost the fight and was knocked unconscious. He was deeply troubled by being banished to the planet because his little sister had been left alone on the station. He felt that he had been betrayed by the government that he had respected but he also felt that he belonged down below. All that was left was a name for my character. I decided to name him Phillip Brooks, stealing CM Punk’s real name. This started the trend of me creating characters with pro-wrestlers’ names but this one was the most egregious.

On arrival at the planet, my character teamed with a ragtag group. There was a thief, a computer programmer, a fashion designer, a mad scientist, a religious zealot, and arms dealer. (Later, the arms dealer was replaced by a soldier). Not long after getting to the camp that would be his new home, my character was propositioned by the mad scientist. It was mindless, meaningless sex but it was a comfort in the new situation. Later, on an expedition to explore their surroundings, the group found foreign berries. Before the scientist could taste test them, my big strong character volunteered with the belief that he would survive. The berries were basically a strong narcotic and my character became an addict. Phillip became angry and sullen and eventually, he nearly died. The scientist saved his life, bringing him back from a coma.

The combination of her saving his life and their brief sexual encounter made Phillip want to protect her. That became my character’s prime directive and he often hung around her, making sure she was safe and practically became her pet. He became dedicated to proving that he was actually a good person and that he was not the monster that he had become. He wanted their community to thrive even if he and the rest of them probably did not deserve to do so. Along the way, they fought the planet’s natives who were strange cat people who may have had good reason to fight the new invaders. The group also discovered a race of sentient trees which were later used as part of a water filtration system for the camp.

In the end, Phillip and the party were sent out on a mission to reestablish contact with a mining operation in the mountains. Phillip was starting to feel better about himself and when they arrived, he was pointed toward a busted radio. The radio was the reason that contact had been lost. Given the opportunity to fix something electronic unlocked something in Phillip and for the first time in a long time, he felt happy again. Unfortunately, an explosion went off in the mines where the rest of his party was and we left the campaign on a cliffhanger on whether everybody else survived or not.

This game was my first experience with the FATE system. For those who do not know, the FATE system is an attempt to simplify the usual D20 system of play. Players role four six-sided die with pluses and minuses on them. A failure on a roll would be mostly negative dice and a success would be mostly positive dice. There were also many skills that characters could have. In addition, characters had abilities and character flaws that responded to “fate chips”. These chips were used to help to reroll or alter rolls to succeed where a player might have failed because of a bad roll. It was an interesting system to learn and, so far, it is the system we have used the most in our group.

Game Soundtrack:

The Pretty RecklessHeaven Knows

I still think this is the perfect song to describe the ragtag group that Phillip became a part of. They were a group of criminals and misfits (for the most part) and they probably all deserved the punishment they got. It was best to just own it. It also described Phillip’s guilt at being banished to the prison planet in the first place.

The Pretty RecklessMy Medicine 

I heard this song and I instantly thought of Phillip’s battle with addiction. He thought he was eating some berries that would at worst make him feel ill but ended up an addict like his parents had been. He felt so hopeless.

Avenged SevenfoldBat Country

This was one of my jams during the time that we played this campaign and it just seemed to reflect where Phillip was. “Too many doses and I’m starting to get an attraction”, “My hand is on the trigger”, “Nobody can save me”, and other phrases just seemed to reflect who Phillip was becoming from the addiction. But what really sold me is the quote “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”

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4 Responses to “Gaming Chronicles: PlanetFall”

  1. Lise Mendel Says:

    I love the musical links!

    It’s interesting to hear about Phillip’s self loathing. I think he’s in the minority there. As far as I could tell, many of the others were too full of righteous fury at the government to ever blame themselves (even those were basically innocent of any wrongdoing).

    Doc, on the other hand, was far too busy concentrating on survival to waste time on self-recriminations.

    Like

    • Wolf of Words Says:

      Yeah. That’s the sense I got as well. Phillip just felt horrible that he got caught and somebody else also paid the price. Music is fun when exploring a character. I like finding music to fit characters and I’m constantly on the lookout so I can listen to it on the drive over. I learned that from Critical Role and it works.

      Like

  2. Silvia Writes Says:

    I like the Heaven Knows tune, sounds like good background for the cliffhanger, or arrival on the planet. Interesting, the semi dichotomy between Philip’s name (strong character from the outset, and background info on choice of name) to his becoming her pet — characterizing his desire to please, help, protect — yet strong he remains, or grows even stronger, the fight for survival ever present.

    Like

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